Whiskey webs, alien abductions, goldfish invasion: News from around our 50 states
Mobile: Preservationists are trying to save a more than 200-year-old site in southwest Alabama that was once both a military installation and a hospital. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recognized the Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital as one of the nation’s most endangered places. Officials are trying to develop a plan and raise money to save the area, located north of Mobile. The arsenal was established in the early 1800s, and many of those buildings remain. Apache leaders including Geronimo were interred there in the late 1800s. The facility became a mental hospital for African Americans in 1900s when Alabama was racially segregated by law. It was integrated decades later and closed in 2012. About 40 buildings remain at the site, but many are deteriorating.
Anchorage: Wildlife officials are making plans to deal with an invasive species at a pond in the middle of the city. The Anchorage Daily News reports more than 150 orange, white and red goldfish are swimming in Cuddy Pond near the city’s main library. The aquarium pets are domesticated carp originally bred in China. Goldfish can carry diseases and bacteria that harm the ecosystem and other marine animals. Alaska Department of Fish and Game invasive species research biologist Krissy Dunker says the department last year tried using electroshock equipment to stun fish and make them easier to catch. She says the fish simply swam deeper. Dunker says it’s more humane to euthanize unwanted pet fish than to release them into the wild, where they’re likely to starve in winter.
Phoenix: Inspectors with the state School Facilities Board once identified critical problems at schools during inspections – high carbon dioxide levels in one school’s classrooms, a 50-year-old air-conditioning system in another school, fire alarm systems in need of repair. But those inspections are almost extinct. Since 2017, officials have conducted just one inspection of one school. State law requires that the School Facilities Board inspect all district school buildings once every five years for building deficiencies and conduct preventive maintenance inspections at 20 randomly selected districts every 30 months. Arizona has 2,001 district school buildings, according to the state Department of Education. Officials conducted 20 deficiencies inspections in 2015 and 18 in 2016. They did no inspections in 2017 and 2018 and one in 2019.
Little Rock: The Buffalo National River park has been designated as the state’s first International Dark Sky Park. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that park officials spent two years getting 345 light fixtures into compliance. It recently became the world’s 71st dark sky park. Mark Foust, who heads the park, says he hopes the designation can serve as an example for other parks in the region that want to partake in the process. The park stretches along 135 miles of the Buffalo River. Park ranger Cassandra Johannsen says most of the 1.2 million visitors go to float the river, but she has encountered people who visit exclusively for the night sky. Bruce McMath, chairman of the Arkansas Natural Sky Association, says park rangers and amateur astronomers have developed impressive dark-sky programs.
San Francisco: A floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in its second attempt to clean up a huge island of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. Boyan Slat, creator of The Ocean Cleanup project, announced on Twitter that a 2,000-foot-long floating boom that broke apart late last year was sent back to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch last week after four months of repair. A ship towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch in September to trap the plastic. But during the four months at sea, the boom broke apart under constant waves and wind, and the boom wasn’t retaining the plastic it caught. Fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the device intends to communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land.
Manitou Springs: A Coloradan is trying to break a record for hiking a notoriously steep and difficult trail as many times as he can in a year. The current record is 1,719 ascents of the Manitou Incline near Manitou Springs. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports 62-year-old Greg Cummings is now about halfway toward breaking his friend Roger Austin’s record. Cummings is averaging over five ascents and descents a day and has completed the trail about 870 times since January. The trail is short but climbs nearly 2,000 feet in less than a mile. The trail consists almost entirely of hundreds of steep steps up a mountainside. Cummings says the challenge is especially difficult because he has Type 1 diabetes.
New Haven: A Yale University library will display a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence and hold a public reading to mark the 243rd anniversary of the nation’s founding. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library says the document is one of only 26 known copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence. Those copies are known as the Dunlap Broadside, named after John Dunlap, who printed about 200 copies in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. They were distributed to the original 13 states. The Yale copy will be displayed in a temporary exhibition case at the library from June 27 through July 11, except for the July 4 holiday, when the library will be closed. The public reading is scheduled for July 5 at 4 p.m.
Prices Corner: Calling attention to what has been described as “a violent and often-ignored chapter of Delaware history,” legislators and more than 100 community members gathered Sunday to unveil a historical marker commemorating the only documented lynching in the First State. Installed by the Delaware Public Archives at New Castle County’s Greenbank Park in Prices Corner, the marker memorializes the 1903 lynching of laborer George White at the hands of a white mob. He was burned at the stake, according to historical accounts and newspaper archives. “I don’t think he’s ever going to be forgotten,” said Savannah Shepherd, a rising senior at the Sanford School in Hockessin, standing in front of a tower that is all that remains of the New Castle County workhouse White where was imprisoned before his death. The high schooler was instrumental in getting the memorial put up.
District of Columbia
Washington: The 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are among 11 new entrants into the district’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Capitals earned entry after bringing the National Hockey League title to Washington for the first time. Owner Ted Leonsis accepted the induction plaque in a ceremony Sunday at Nationals Park. Other honorees included former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann; Tom Brown, who played for the Senators and Redskins; University of Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese; former DeMatha Catholic High School and Duke basketball player Danny Ferry; Maryland soccer coach Sasho Cirovski; two-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Tom Dolan; horse racing writer Andrew Beyer; and Kevin Payne, first president and CEO of DC United (soccer).
Orlando: A woman’s effort to protect herself from domestic violence has become a flashpoint in the debate over gun rights and victims’ safety. Courtney Irby gave her estranged husband’s guns to police after he was charged with domestic violence-aggravated battery, only to find herself arrested for theft. Now a state lawmaker and gun safety advocates are championing her cause, asking a state attorney to drop the charges, while gun rights advocates want her prosecuted. Irby spent six days in jail on charges of armed burglary and grand theft. At the time she turned in the assault rifle and handgun, Joseph Irby was spending one day in jail, accused of ramming into her car after a divorce hearing. She had received a temporary injunction for protection. Federal law prohibits people under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing guns, but it’s up to local law enforcement to enforce it, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Atlanta: A hand-painted silk flag carried into battle by members of the 127th United States Colored Troops in the Civil War now has a home at a museum in the city. The piece of history recently auctioned off in Philadelphia landed in the collection of the Atlanta History Center and is the most expensive artifact the center has acquired. According to the center, at least 180,000 African Americans served in the United States Colored Troops, a branch of the U.S. Army formed after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The units were segregated and commanded by white officers. Estimates are that three-fourths of the soldiers were formerly enslaved men. The history center has 11,000 items in its Civil War collection, which is one of the largest in the nation. But items specifically associated with the U.S. Colored Troops are very rare, and the center owns only a dozen.
Hilo: A new altar has been built near the summit of Mauna Kea, less than a day after state officials dismantled two other “ahu” in preparation for the construction of one of the world’s most advanced telescopes. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the new ahu isn’t directly blocking access to the site where the Thirty Meter Telescope is planned. The two dismantled ahu were blocking access to the site. The new ahu is across the road from the Maunakea Visitor Information Station where a structure called Hale o Kukiaimauna stood until state officials took it down Thursday. State officials announced they were giving permission for construction to begin on the Thirty Meter Telescope. The decision came after the state Supreme Court in October upheld the project’s permits.
Kelly Creek: Wildlife officials are urging black bear hunters to choose their targets with care after a protected grizzly bear was spotted in north-central Idaho for the first time in a decade. A hunting guide restocking a black bear baiting site encountered the 3-year-old male grizzly in the lower Kelly Creek area of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests this month. The grizzly bear is collared and tracked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency says the bear crossed into Idaho last August, but wildlife officials captured it and sent it back to Montana. Wayne Kasworm, who monitors bears for the agency, says the bear headed south again after it was released. Idaho Fish and Game officials say hunters need to be cautious for the rest of black bear season.
Joliet: State troopers are teaming up with truck drivers in the Chicago area to crack down on distracted driving. The (Joliet) Herald-News reports the “Trooper in a Truck” program has troopers riding along in the cabs of commercial motor vehicles to better spot distracted drivers. Maj. Robert Meeder says troopers have a better vantage point from a truck’s cab to see if drivers in other vehicles are texting or doing other things that are unsafe. If the trooper sees something, he or she notifies police units up ahead to stop the violators. Meeder said during a news conference in Joliet that distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic crashes.
Indianapolis: The region’s archbishop has forced a Catholic high school to fire a gay teacher, just days after another school in the city defied a similar order despite church officials saying they would no longer recognize it as Catholic. Cathedral High School announced Sunday that it’s terminating the teacher’s contract to avoid a split with the Indianapolis archdiocese. Leaders of Cathedral High School, a private school affiliated with the Brothers of the Holy Cross religious order, said in a letter on the school’s website that disobeying Archbishop Charles Thompson would cost the school its nonprofit status and its ability to have Mass celebrated on campus. This is the third Indianapolis Catholic high school that’s faced pressure from Thompson over employees in same-sex marriages since he became archbishop in July 2017.
Iowa City: A University of Iowa team has won a $115 million grant to develop satellites for studying a system of radiation created by the sun – “space weather.” The NASA grant will underwrite development of satellites expected to be launched within the next three years with more satellites developed by Southwest Research Institute scientists. The satellites are designed to gather data on how the sun creates solar wind and how Earth responds to the solar wind. NASA scientists say goal is to understand what drives space weather so humans can mitigate any harmful effects. NASA official Nicky Fox says solar particles generated by the sun can interfere with undersea cables, power grids, radio communications and other electronic equipment.
Topeka: State education officials are raising pay and fast-tracking various teaching professionals in a two-pronged effort aimed at combating teacher shortages. Last year, Kansas schools had more than 600 vacant positions, many in rural areas and the state’s most urban districts. Low pay has been blamed for much of the trouble attracting and retaining teachers. Legislative approval of multiyear school funding increases amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars has given districts a chance to offer teacher raises that were difficult to include in previous budgets, the Kansas News Service reports. Fast-tracking teaching assistants and other professionals to head classrooms is the other part of the plan. Education officials say they believe the upcoming funding boost will alleviate teacher shortages.
Louisville: University of Louisville professor Stuart Williams was experimenting with a case of bourbon when he made an accidental discovery – a drop of the spirit, when diluted and evaporated under certain conditions, formed a microscopic pattern of thin strands. Williams calls the pattern a “whiskey web,” which looks like a lattice of lightning when it’s lit up. And he believes it may prove to be a unique “fingerprint” that can be used to identify different bourbons, although his research is still in the early stages. Thousands of flavors contribute to the taste of a bourbon, Williams says, and he believes the physical components that make up those flavors, such as fatty acids, are primarily responsible for generating these webs. Only American whiskeys, which are aged in a new, charred barrel, appear to create these webs, based on the research so far, he says.
New Orleans: A new federally led study of oil seeping from a platform toppled off Louisiana’s coast 14 1/2 years ago finds releases lower than other recent estimates but contradicts the well owner’s assertions about the amount and source of oil. Oil and gas have been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico since a subsea mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 15, 2004, knocked over a Taylor Energy Co. production platform. Taylor is fighting a federal order to cap the well. The company says oil sheens on the water’s surface indicate there’s only a dribble of oil. The new report says its findings contradict that. The scientists used sonar and a new tool they call a “bubblometer” to estimate the seepage. Taylor says it wants verifiable scientific data about the leak and a scientifically and environmentally sound solution.
Portland: City officials are waiting on a decision from the state about whether new African immigrants here can receive state assistance. The Portland Press Herald reports the Portland City Council canceled a meeting that had been scheduled for Monday to discuss financial support for the asylum-seekers. Mayor Ethan Strimling says the city postponed the meeting to give Gov. Janet Mills more time. More than 200 people were staying at an emergency shelter in Portland late last week. Most are from Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and they’re seeking asylum in the United States. City Manager Jon Jennings says the number of immigrants arriving in the city seems to have stabilized in recent days. They’re staying at a basketball arena.
Salisbury: Assateague Island welcomed new life Friday with the birth of a wild horse. “Ms. Macky,” also known as N2BHS-AL, gave birth to a male bay pinto colt. “The new foal, N2BHS-ALR, and band live most of the year in the very busy developed area and campgrounds. For this reason, the National Park Service expressly reminds visitors that it is essential to remain a minimum of a bus length (40’) away from the wild horses at all times,” the National Park Service said in a release. About two-thirds of foals in the Assateague Island National Seashore are born in April, May and June. “A mare will be very protective of her new foal and it is vitally important for their well-being that visitors give them, and all of the wild horses, plenty of space,” the release said.
Boston: Researchers on Cape Cod are launching a new study focused on the hunting and feeding habits of the region’s great white sharks following last year’s two attacks on humans. Greg Skomal, a state marine biologist leading the effort, says the hope is to contribute critical information to the ongoing debate over how to keep Cape beachgoers safe. The new research calls for placing sophisticated tags on sharks to track their swimming speed, depth and body position in the water. Skomal says researchers also hope to determine how many seals great whites are eating and whether that’s affecting the seal population. Local officials have been wrestling for months with how to respond to public concern over last year’s attacks, which included the state’s first shark-related fatality in more than 80 years.
Flint: State officials are questioning whether crews digging water service lines in the city near an American Indian burial ground found human remains after an inspector found work was being conducted without an archaeologist. The Flint Journal reports the inquiry came in a June 18 letter from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to Flint Public Works Director Robert Bincsik. The work appears to have been done without required professional oversight, violating an agreement among the state, Flint and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. The letter asks for details and plans for future work. City spokeswoman Candice Mushatt says no human remains were found, and the city is seeking an archaeologist so excavation can continue.
Minneapolis: Starting July 1, Minnesotans who rape their spouses finally can be charged with sexual assault. Wage theft becomes a crime. And drug manufacturers will help shoulder the costs of the opioid epidemic. Those are some new laws taking effect July 1 along with the state’s new $48 billion budget. Minnesota will have what sponsors say is the country’s toughest wage theft law. It comes down hard on employers who cheat workers by making it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. An estimated 39,000 Minnesotans annually are victims of wage theft in some form. Drug manufacturers and distributors will now have to pay much higher registration fees, which will raise about $21 million annually to help fight the opioid epidemic in the state.
Pascagoula: A historical marker has been placed near the river where two men in southern Mississippi said they were abducted by aliens in 1973. News outlets report the city of Pascagoula dedicated the marker Saturday at Lighthouse Park. Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker said they were on the shores of the Pascagoula River when what appeared to be aliens pulled them onboard a UFO, examined them for about 30 minutes and then returned them to Earth. Both reported the event to the sheriff’s department and were checked out at a hospital after it happened Oct. 11, 1973. The story has become known worldwide. Parker published a book about the experience in 2018. Hickson died in 2011. Both said many people doubted their story. A few witnesses have come forward to corroborate some details.
St. Louis: A judge ruled Monday that the state’s lone abortion clinic can continue performing abortions through Friday but kicked the clinic’s lawsuit out of court. St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer extended a preliminary injunction he previously issued in order to give a Planned Parenthood affiliate in the city time to take a licensing fight before an administrative panel. Stelzer ruled the clinic has not yet exhausted its options outside court to handle the dispute over its license to perform abortions. The state health department on Friday declined to renew the clinic’s abortion license. The judge directed Planned Parenthood to take the issue up with the Administrative Hearing Commission, a panel that typically handles disputes between state agencies and businesses or individuals.
Billings: Montana Rail Link has been awarded a $3.5 million federal grant to design a safety system for a railway between southern Montana and northern Idaho. The Billings Gazette reports the Federal Rail Administration grant will fund the design and environmental review of implementing a positive train control, an automated system to stop a train before a crash. The safety system would be designed to identify potential problems and warn train operators. It would stop the train if the operator doesn’t act. Montana Rail Link aims to install the system on the 655-mile line running from near Billings to Sandpoint, Idaho. The grant was awarded under the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program and the Special Transportation Circumstances Program.
Omaha: Visitors to Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium can now see two newborn sea lion pups in the zoo’s Sea Lion Pavilion. The first pup was born June 12 to 9-year-old Gemini. Another was born Tuesday to 10-year-old Coco. The sexes of the pups are not yet known. The sea lion pups and their mothers are on display with the father of both pups, 15-year-old Chino. The zoo currently has eight sea lions: two males, four females and the two pups. Next year, the zoo is set to open Owen Sea Lion Shores, a new sea lion habitat that will include underwater viewing. The area also will include a natural beach that will allow females to give birth on land and gradually introduce pups to the water, as they would in their natural habitats.
Las Vegas: Eldorado Resorts will buy Caesars in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $17.3 billion, creating a casino giant. The acquisition Monday puts about 60 casinos and resorts in 16 states under a single name, one of the biggest gambling and entertainment ventures in the United States. “Together, we will have an extremely powerful suite of iconic gaming and entertainment brands, as well as valuable strategic alliances with industry leaders in sports betting and online gaming,” Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement. The company, which will be called Caesars, will be led by Reeg, along with Eldorado Chairman Gary Carano. It will be based in Reno, where Eldorado is based, with a “significant corporate presence” in Las Vegas, where Caesars is based.
Durham: The University of New Hampshire is going to help residents who want to support the state’s pollinators by creating wildflower meadows. The university says pollinators such as bees are critical for New England’s fruit and vegetable crops, and residents have the ability to help by enhancing local habitats. The university is hosting a free event on the subject July 30 at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station’s Woodman Horticultural Research Farm in Durham. The university says the state has a diverse set of native bees, but habitat loss is a threat to the pollinators. Cathy Neal, a researcher with the agricultural experiment station, says hundreds of pollinator gardens and habitats have been installed in the Granite State in recent years.
Morris County: A photo of a 3-year-old lab mix as he sat beside his recently deceased owner’s empty hospital bed went viral and resulted in his adoption. The dog named Moose was photographed waiting for his owner to return to the hospital bed, apparently unaware he had died, according to a post on the Eleventh Hour Rescue’s Facebook page. Moose was returned to the county-based shelter and its Randolph kennels, where his new family found him. “MOOSE HAS BEEN ADOPTED by a wonderful family who will care for and love him for the rest of his life!” Eleventh Hour Rescue said in the social media post. “Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts! We wish all of our dogs had the same chance at finding a home as Moose does now!”
Albuquerque: A longtime advocate and employee of the University of New Mexico University Libraries is donating his collection of rare George Orwell books. The university says professor and curator emeritus Russ Davidson has agreed to donate his Orwell book collection, which includes first editions of “Animal Farm” and “1984” in various languages. Davidson’s extensive collection also includes scarce editions of many of Orwell’s other books, essays and journalistic writings. The collection will be part of an Orwell exhibit in Zimmerman Library from September through next spring. Davidson worked at University Libraries for 25 years. The British-born Orwell was known for his allegorical novella “Animal Farm” and dystopian novel “1984,” both of which tackled totalitarianism. “1984” has become a best-seller in the U.S. again during the Trump administration.
New York: During Pride month, “somewhere over the rainbow” means crossing the street – over the multicolored crosswalk leading to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. On Saturday evening, crews from the city’s Department of Transportation painted the pedestrian crossing closest to Stonewall, at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue, in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. That pavement was hardly celebratory 50 years ago, in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, when a police raid on Stonewall touched off riots that inspired the global Pride movement. The Stonewall Inn is now part of a national monument honoring LGBTQ civil rights. Embedded in the epoxy base of the new Village crosswalk are U.S. pennies from 1969, along with a Stonewall 50 logo enamel pin.
Trenton: Nine months after Hurricane Florence inundated the state, communities such as this one illustrate the slow and uneven pace of recovery. With hurricane season starting June 1, the courthouse and jail have yet to reopen as judges hear cases in an office building and inmates are housed in another county. Dozens are seeking federal buyouts of ruined homes, threatening Trenton’s tax base. Even the mayor has yet to move back into her house, due to a shortage of available construction workers. The county also lacks a newspaper or television station to help tell its story. But several residents say that charities have helped spread the word and have done work to get them moved back in, offering hope. The September 2018 hurricane turned downtown into a shallow lake of muddy water, flooding 106 homes – all but about 20 of the town’s households, town officials say.
Fargo: The Ralph Engelstad Arena at the University of North Dakota is preparing to unveil what it calls the largest video display in college hockey, a 50,000-pound scoreboard manufactured by South Dakota-based Daktronics. The Engelstad Family Foundation, which has been at odds with recently departed school president Mark Kennedy over a basketball floor logo and other issues, has donated $4 million for the $6 million project. The remaining $2 million is coming out of the building’s long-term repair and building fund. Arena manager Jody Hodgson says the idea to upgrade the video display was suggested by foundation trustee Kris Engelstad McGarry about a year and a half ago. Hodgson says the four 34-foot-wide by 15.5-foot-high video boards complement “the original vision” of Ralph Engelstad, a former North Dakota hockey player.
Ashland: BalloonFest is back. The 29th annual extravaganza will be held at Ashland’s Freer Field from Thursday through Saturday. Mindi White, president of Ashland BalloonFest, says 30 hot air balloons are scheduled to be part of this year’s festivities. Food vendors will open at 4 p.m. Thursday, though opening ceremonies won’t happen until 6:15 p.m. on the main stage. The media flight is scheduled to follow at 6:30. The first of three balloon glows will take place at 9:15. All flights will be dependent on the weather. Balloon glows will take place at the same time Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s balloon glow has been named in honor of John Moran, who had taken part in 23 BalloonFests and died at last year’s event when he hit his head on burners while disassembling his balloon.
Oklahoma City: Drivers who owe fines and fees for traffic violations will be able to settle for pennies on the dollar under an amnesty program approved by the City Council. Beginning July 1, drivers whose citations were issued at least two years ago will have until March 31 to resolve them. People who can’t pay their fines and fees could have their costs waived. People who have dragged their feet to pay a basic traffic ticket or show up for court will be able to settle for $155, a reduction from $613. The cost of the same ticket for someone who pays on time is $172. Officials say the program could help resolve more than 116,000 outstanding cases and help people with suspended driver’s licenses to get them back.
Salem: A law passed by the Legislature gives farmers and ranchers immunity from liability while fighting dangerous wildfires, such as the one that chewed through acres of wheat fields and grasslands last year, The Capitol Press reports. The law is similar to one that prevents bystanders from being sued if they try to help during an emergency, according to the newspaper. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill last week at a ceremony with the Oregon Wheat Growers League. Wheat farmers were the first to respond to the rapidly spreading fire and used their disc plows and water trucks to slow it down before any firefighters arrived. The blaze destroyed 122 square miles of dry wheat fields and grasslands and was devastating for wheat farmers. Its sponsor, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, says the farmers who used their plows to create dirt firebreaks around homes and small communities were critical in slowing the flames.
Harrisburg: Lawmakers say a just-unveiled compromise budget package won’t include any extra money for the state to bolster federal census efforts. House Republican officials said Monday that there’s no need for the state to help fund a federal government function. A commission tapped by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to study how to ensure an accurate census in Pennsylvania had asked for $1 per person to aid the outreach, or close to $13 million. Some states are undertaking a similar analysis and, in some cases, devoting money to the cause. The government takes a headcount every 10 years to allocate seats in Congress and billions in federal dollars for such things as transportation projects and education. Wolf’s office says the state would lose almost $2,100 a year for each person who isn’t counted.
North Kingstown: A company specializing in wind power blade maintenance has chosen the state for its U.S. headquarters, a sign of Rhode Island’s growing offshore wind industry. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor told the Boston Globe last week that British company GEV Wind Power has committed to staying at Quonset Point in North Kingstown for at least 12 years. The company plans to create 125 jobs in the state. Pryor says he traveled to the United Kingdom twice in recent months to secure the deal. Pryor acknowledged that Massachusetts is building its role in the wind power industry but says Rhode Island is the “first mover” in this field. The Rhode Island Commerce Corp. was scheduled to vote Monday on a $1.9 million tax credit for GEV.
Columbia: This year, the Confederate flag won’t temporarily be raised at the Statehouse to mark the day it was permanently taken down. A group calling for racial fairness – Showing Up for Racial Justice Columbia – has a permit to rally on the grounds July 10. The South Carolina Secessionist Party has raised a Confederate flag on a temporary flagpole the past three years to protest the date the rebel banner was permanently removed. Showing Up for Racial Justice Columbia founder Sarah Keeling told The State newspaper she applied for the permit the minute it was available so the Secessionist Party couldn’t gather. Officials review requests to hold events partly to prevent conflicts with other groups. The Secessionist Party might not have shown up because the group has splintered.
Sioux Falls: The Arc of Dreams is changing the city’s skyline. And once it’s standing, the massive art piece that will be SculptureWalk’s staple art piece downtown itself will change from day to day thanks to an illumination system at the base of each side of the arc. The arc is equipped with 18 high-powered LED bulbs – nine on each side – that will splash color onto the steel structure from the ground up. In each bulb are red, white, green and blue diodes, which can be mixed and matched to create any number of colors. The lights are connected to digital software that will give SculptureWalk the ability to schedule color changes and even create the look of movement by rapidly changing colors that are splashing up and down the arc.
Martin: A couple is donating $22 million to provide scholarships at the University of Tennessee-Martin, marking the largest gift in campus history. A news release says the gift by Bill and Rosann Nunnelly was announced during the University of Tennessee’s board meeting Friday. The donation will occur after the Nunnellys’ deaths, although four Hickman County students will begin receiving scholarships this fall. Dickson, Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury and Humphreys county students could qualify for future scholarships. More than 90 scholarships could be awarded annually. Bill Nunnelly was raised on a farm in the Hickman County community bearing his family’s name. The semi-retired entrepreneur earned an undergraduate degree from UT Martin in 1970.
Corpus Christi: A worldwide sailing competition has returned to the city this week as the 2019 CITGO Etchells World Championship Regatta is contested on Corpus Christi Bay. The weeklong event will feature nearly 120 sailors from across the world, competing for the coveted championship trophy. Racing begins at noon Tuesday and is at the same time each day through Saturday. The Etchells sailboat traces it roots back to the 1950s, when E.W. “Skip” Etchells designed a boat for a yachting magazine competition to find a new three-man Olympic keelboat. The design lost out to the “Soling” for the Olympics but took hold in other sailing competitions. The boat is just over 30 feet long and has a main sail area of 188 square feet. It is considered one of the most popular competition boats in the world.
West Haven: As the state’s population booms, some farmers in Weber County are making the tough but sometimes lucrative decision to sell their land as small family plots give way to homes. The Standard-Examiner reports that Phil Green is among Ogden-area farmers who recently sold land to housing developers. Green sold 56 acres that his family used for a dairy farm and to grow hay and corn. Today, more than 100 new houses fill that land. Green says it was hard to let the land go, and he sometimes cries when he walks through the subdivision. But he’s also glad he had the opportunity to sell. Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins says selling the land is sometimes a no-brainer for farmers struggling to make profits working the land.
Montpelier: The state Fish & Wildlife Department is looking for volunteers to count bats this summer. The department says the little brown bat is endangered in the state, and long-term volunteer monitoring is critical to its management and recovery. It’s holding a training session for volunteers next week in Fair Haven. The little brown bat population has declined by up to 90% in Vermont. Volunteer citizen scientists help by monitoring rare colonies of female bats and their young. State biologist Alyssa Bennett says the state has shown that the small surviving population appears to be holding steady. The free presentation and training will be held Friday at Bomoseen State Park from 8 p.m. to after dusk. Afterward, volunteers will be given sites to monitor.
Charlottesville: The University of Virginia is considering a petition to remove a statue of a Revolutionary War hero because it depicts a potential attack on Native Americans. The Daily Progress reports that the school’s segregation commission is considering a petition to remove a statue of George Rogers Clark from campus that shows him and his soldiers possibly about to attack a group of Native Americans. The statue calls Clark the “Conqueror of the Northwest” and was given to the school in the 1920s. Clark led a militia that fought the British and their Native American allies during the Revolutionary War. In 1779 he routed the British from Fort Sackville in the Battle of Vincennes in present-day Indiana. He is the brother of William Clark, who co-led the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Yakima: Wind is damaging the state’s cherry crop, but how much is not yet known. “Some say significant, but we won’t know until it runs over the line,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers in Yakima, referring to when wind-damaged fruit reaches packing lines. Before winds reaching 35 mph hit the area last Wednesday, up to 90% of cherries were being packed, which is an excellent rate, Thurlby told the Capital Press. That percentage will probably drop. Wind bangs cherries around, bruising them as they hit or rub branches, leaves and other cherries. The riper the fruit, the more susceptible to damage they are. Rainiers bruise more easily than dark cherries. A lighter crop helps in some areas because clusters aren’t so tight, putting cherries in constant contact with each other.
Charleston: The leader of the state’s Republican Party is applauding a state senator’s call for intolerance against members of the LGBTQ community. Republican state Sen. Mike Azinger wrote an opinion article Sunday titled “The Shame of LGBTQ Pride” in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel after the paper covered a gay pride picnic. State GOP chairwoman Melody Potter then wrote on Facebook that Azinger’s article was “right on.” Azinger wrote that “sexual deviancy is going mainstream” and said the solution “is not political correctness and tolerance.” Azinger says he’s taking a biblical position. Potter did not return a call to her office. Andrew Schneider, executive director of the advocacy group Fairness West Virginia, says Potter and Azinger are forgetting their scripture when it comes to loving others.
Madison: The University of Wisconsin-Madison is setting up a new marker recognizing the campus as the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk tribe. The university announced Monday that UW-Madison leaders and Ho-Chunk Nation officials dedicated the plaque on Bascom Hill on Thursday. The marker is entitled “Our Shared Future” and acknowledges the campus occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place the tribe called Teejop. The marker notes the tribe was forced to give up the territory in 1832. The plaque says both the federal and state government tried unsuccessfully to force the tribe out of Wisconsin, but UW-Madison recognizes the Ho-Chunk Nation’s sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of the other 11 tribes that reside in the state. The marker will be part of all prospective student tours.
Jackson: A national park and a nonprofit group plan to spend $8 million to improve boating facilities and address environmental damage along the Snake River in western Wyoming. The Snake River Gateways campaign is a joint effort between Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. The project will focus on boat launches and landings near Moose, Pacific Creek and Jackson Lake Dam. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports plans call for adding shelter for visitors at the busy landing site at Moose. The boat ramp at Pacific Creek will be replaced, and a nearby parking area will be reconfigured. The Jackson Lake Dam site will also get a new boat ramp and parking area.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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