From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
Published 2:10 AM EDT Sep 10, 2019
Mobile: A free music festival held in the city’s downtown the past four years is being canceled. A statement from DMG Productions Inc. says the TenSixty festival won’t be held next month as expected. The statement blames a lack of sponsor money for the decision and says organizers hope to resume the festival in the future. TenSixtyFive began in October 2015 after the abrupt cancellation of the BayFest festival in Mobile. Organizers pulled the replacement event together in just a few weeks, and it’s been held annually since. Acts last year included Big Boi, Walker Hayes and Wet Willie. The statement says more than 100,000 people attended over four years.
Sitka: Russian adventurer Anatoly Kazakevich sailed into town on a double-hulled inflatable sailboat last week, completing the last leg of an 8,000-mile journey from the Siberian city of Irkutsk. Kazakevich and his crew, which ranged between two and six members along the route, sailed the inflatable catamaran Iskatel across the North Pacific Ocean to Homer, Alaska, last year. After wintering in south-central waters, the Iskatel (which means “searcher”) brought Kazakevich to Sitka last week to mark the completion of his Baikal-Alaska Expedition. Kazakevich described his journey as a “historical geography expedition” and said that “before us, nobody did this (route) for 150 years.” Colonial-era journeys of Russian explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries were the inspiration for Kazakevich’s expedition. Many places in Alaska still bear the names of those Russians.
Phoenix: Unfortunately for Wildcats and Sun Devils, neither school can claim bragging rights this year over which sits above the other in the most high-profile college rankings. Arizona State University and University of Arizona tied for 117th place in the 2020 list of Best National Universities from U.S. News & World Report, which compiles annual lists assessing universities across the country. But ASU did achieve one distinction: The school was again named the most innovative university in the country, for the fifth year running. U.S. News ranks colleges on a variety of factors, including student outcomes, faculty resources, expert opinions on the schools, financial resources, student excellence and alumni donations.
Russellville: The City Council is forming a committee to evaluate applications for a new casino, even though Pope County has already made its pick on an applicant. Arkansas voters in 2018 authorized four casinos in the state: two at racetracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis and two in Jefferson and Pope counties. The Jefferson County casino is already under construction, but the process in Pope County has been slowed by challenges. Last month, the Pope County Quorum Court endorsed a proposal from the Cherokee National Businesses, but leaders in Russellville say they want a say in the process. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the council voted Thursday to establish a seven-member committee to review proposals. The state Racing Commission has set a Nov. 18 deadline to receive casino license applications.
San Francisco: Thousands of tourists could soon be forced to make reservations and pay to drive the famously crooked Lombard Street. California lawmakers approved a bill last week granting San Francisco the power to establish a toll and reservation system for Lombard Street. The bill still needs Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority has recommended $5 per car on weekdays and $10 on weekends and holidays. Residents say the scenic street has become more like an overcrowded amusement park than a neighborhood street. They have been calling for years for officials to address traffic jams, trash and trespassing. Tourism officials estimate 6,000 people daily visit the 600-foot-long street in the summer, creating lines of cars stretching for blocks.
Denver: A utility company is moving ahead with plans for a wind energy project on the eastern Colorado plains. Xcel Energy-Colorado plans to complete the 500-megawatt Cheyenne Ridge Wind Project in December 2020. The $743 million project will cover some 150 square miles in Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties. The Denver Post reports Xcel has selected Minneapolis-based development company Mortenson to build the wind farm. Mortenson previously built the 600-megawatt Rush Creek Wind Project in eastern Colorado. Denmark-based Vestas will supply 229 wind turbines for Cheyenne Ridge. Xcel Energy proposes to eliminate all of its carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Colorado officials seek to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 90% of 2005 levels by 2050.
New London: Highway signs listing attractions in southeastern Connecticut have remained blank for about a year. The Day newspaper reports state plans show there are 17 large blue signs in both directions on Interstate 95 between North Stonington and New London, plus smaller signs on the exit ramps. The Connecticut Department of Transportation first held signage meetings in Stonington and Groton in 2016. Blank attractions signs were installed last year. The DOT says the designs for the panels were not ready before the signs were installed, and it had to approve custom logos. Residents asked the newspaper about the blank signs earlier this year. The firm hired by the state to install the signs, Quaker Corporation, says it hopes the panels listing the attractions will be up in the next month.
Lewes Beach: Hurricane Dorian has come and gone, but some animals are still feeling its impact. Ferocious winds and crashing waves stirred by the hurricane swept a higher-than-average number of animals ashore along the Delaware coast, according to the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute. “Whenever we get a large storm like that, the wave energy and the wind direction can push animals in that are either deceased or debilitated,” says Suzanne Thurman, executive director of MERR. Among the stranded animals were six loggerhead sea turtles, five of which were found dead. However, a female loggerhead weighing about 275 pounds was discovered alive at Lewes Beach. The animal had what was thought to be a pre-existing shell injury caused by a boat propeller, according to Thurman.
District of Columbia
Washington: A black-owned funeral parlor was handling up to 140 funerals per year during its peak from the 1950s through the 1980s. The Washington Post reports the Hall Brothers Funeral Home only handled four funerals last year, the number driven low by clientele who either died or were driven out by gentrification. The parlor’s owner, 77-year-old Richard Ables, says of the neighborhood: “If we saw a white person, we’d ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ Now it’s the opposite.” Ables sold the property housing the dying business Wednesday, nearly 80 years after it was founded by his uncles. The newspaper notes the parlor was the last of its kind along its corridor, which is now home to an increasing number of young, white professionals.
Miramar Beach: A bottle containing four $1 bills, a couple of notes and a man’s ashes is back on its journey, returning to the sea after making a brief stop at a coastal community in the Panhandle. The bottle carries the ashes of a 39-year-old Florida man who died earlier this year and whose family wanted to give him an adventure. The bottle began drifting off the shore of Destin before washing ashore 20 miles down the coast. It was turned in to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. That’s when Sgt. Paula Pendleton got a hold of it and read the notes in the bottle, from the man’s mother and his daughter. Pendleton lost her husband last year and was touched. On Friday, a friend with a boat took the bottle far into the Gulf to let it continue its journey.
Atlanta: State lawmakers are again exploring the idea of new legalized gambling to help fund the HOPE scholarship program. If gambling in the state is expanded, the type of activity allowed will greatly determine how much money can be raised. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that casino gambling brought in record numbers last year, but the thoroughbred horse racing industry is shrinking. Experts say sports betting’s impact would be minimal. State lawmakers are studying the potential for economic benefits with expanded gambling. Adding horse racing or casino gambling in the state would require Georgians to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the expansion.
Hilo: Scientists say lava from the Kilauea volcanic eruption has triggered an algae bloom seen from outer space. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports satellite images of the Big Island eruption showed green water around where the lava was entering the ocean. Scientists from the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern California say their research on the event was published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science. They say they conducted water chemistry tests to record the biological response to lava flowing into the ocean within days of the 2018 eruption. The tests signaled large amounts of chlorophyll, the green pigment in algae and other plants responsible for converting light into energy. Scientists say the lava fueled microscopic life, formed land and was just as creative as destructive.
Boise: An elk named Elliott who befriended archery elk hunters at a campground has been captured by state officials who are looking for a permanent home for him. Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Evin Oneale tells the Idaho Statesman that Elliott was captured last week. Officials say someone bottle-fed Elliott as a calf earlier this year near the central Idaho town of Sweet, and he became habituated to humans. Fish and Game captured and relocated Elliott to central Idaho hoping he would join an elk herd in the area, but he instead chose to be with people. Hunter Trevor Chadwick says Elliott greeted him and other elk hunters at their campsite. Chadwick says hunters didn’t want to shoot Elliott because he was tame, and it wouldn’t be ethical.
Mount Pulaski: The Mount Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site will celebrate the city’s annual fall festival next weekend. The courthouse is one of two buildings still standing where Abraham Lincoln practiced law as a circuit-riding attorney before he became president. Many festival activities will be held near the courthouse square. The courthouse will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday except during the festival parade, which begins at 4 p.m. The festival will feature vintage games, wheat weaving and spinning, a hand-quilting demonstration and a discussion on mid-19th century currency. Abraham Lincoln presenter Randy Duncan of Carlinville will appear Saturday. Duncan will deliver Lincoln’s 1858 “House Divided” speech at 11 a.m. Saturday at the courthouse. Electronic devices will be offered as raffle prizes.
Evansville: A new heritage trail has been dedicated that traces the history of African Americans in the city. The new African American Heritage Trail opened Wednesday. WEHT-TV reports the trail provides a walking tour past Lincoln School, Liberty Baptist Church and the area’s business district, with stops that include stories and landmarks. The trail was dedicated by the Evansville African American Museum and Evansville’s metropolitan development department. Museum founder Sondra Matthews says that “history is just not a part of our education process” but also something that should be available “at home, in the churches and in the community.” Brochures for the walking tour are available at the trailhead at the Evansville African American Museum.
West Des Moines: To celebrate 50 years of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, CEO Renee Hardman, 58, is looking 25 years ahead. The program sealed a time capsule Sunday afternoon that will preserve mementos for the next 25 years at the group’s yearly Big Little Picnic at Legion Park in West Des Moines. Hardman joined the program as a mentor a couple of days after finishing her education at Drake University. She was a “big” to the same “little” from age 6 to her high school graduation. Now that “little” is in her 40s. “She’s the daughter I never had,” Hardman says. In the program’s 50 years, mentors have touched the lives of more than 20,000 Iowan youths. The capsule will preserve letters from Hardman and the current and past board presidents, Sunday’s paper and a picture of the current staff, among other documents.
Olathe: Panic broke out at a suburban Kansas City festival that celebrates pioneer history after festivalgoers falsely believed shots had been fired. The Kansas City Star reports it was unclear what led some attendees to begin running and taking cover Saturday night at the Johnson County Old Settlers event in Olathe. Police said Sunday that reports of gunfire weren’t substantiated. Amid the chaos, one woman fell and was hurt. Sixteen-year-old Mel Hipsher says she was with her friends getting tokens for games when she saw a group push through the crowd, running. The teen says she and her friends also started running. She says she heard someone yell about a shooter. Word was quickly spread on social media about a purported shooting at the event that includes music and rides.
Madisonville: Transportation officials are offering a historic bridge for adoption. A statement from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says it is trying to find an acceptable reuse for the Blackford Creek Bridge at the Hancock-Daviess County line, which is scheduled to be replaced next year. The span was built around 1919 and has been determined as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Engineer Deneatra Henderson says good uses for the 60-foot long steel Pratt pony truss bridge include adding it to a hiking and biking trail or as part of a golf course cart path. Those interested in adopting the bridge can submit letters of interest and proposals before Dec. 1. Officials say if no one adopts the span, it will be demolished.
New Orleans: Visitors can now see the baby orangutan born less than two months ago at the city’s zoo, but only when her mother decides to come outdoors. Bulan was born July 17 to longtime Audubon Zoo resident Feliz and to Jambi, a male Sumatran orangutan brought from Germany last fall. Zoo spokeswoman Lauren Messina Conrad says her name means “Moon” in Indonesia’s official language. Conrad says Bulan will spend many months clinging to Feliz – something she can do even when asleep. She says Jambi; Bulan’s 10-year-old half-sister, Menari; and another 10-year-old female named Reese have been bonding with Bulan behind the scenes, and all are getting along well. The shaggy, red-haired great apes are critically endangered. Hunting and habitat destruction have drastically cut numbers of Sumatran orangutans.
Portland: A new campaign aims to keep college students from leaving the state once they graduate. The Portland Press Herald reports the pilot program is launching this October through the University of Maine, Husson University in Bangor, Thomas College in Waterville and the University of Southern Maine. Student interns at each campus will hand out fliers, stickers and T-shirts to inform students about small and midsize employers in Maine. Interns will also coordinate events where students can meet employers. Industry-funded workforce development groups Live Work in Maine and Educate Maine are behind the campaign, which also is partnering with a startup ride service to reach out to students. The groups hope to encourage more college students to stay after graduation in light of Maine’s escalating labor shortage.
Cumberland: The Highway Administration has removed several road signs for “Negro Mountain” over concerns about racial insensitivity in the name. Agency spokeswoman Lora Rakowski confirmed to news outlets Sunday that four signs along Interstate 68 and U.S. Alternate Route 40 were removed in April. Rakowski told the Cumberland Times-News the agency is working with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and community members going forward. Historian Lynn Bowman told the newspaper the origin of the mountain’s name is unknown, but some accounts refer to it being named after a black man who died in a battle with Native Americans. Lynchings were also said to have taken place on the mountain. The mountain’s ridge runs 30 miles through the Allegheny range and peaks in Pennsylvania.
Boston: A bill aimed at giving cats and dogs that have been subjects in research institutions and product testing facilities a second shot at life is set to come up at a public hearing. The bill would require that research labs spare animals from automatic euthanasia and instead use animal rescue organizations to help get the dogs and cats adopted. The bill was approved by the Massachusetts Senate last session but failed to become law. It’s set for a public hearing Tuesday at the Statehouse. Animals that pose a risk to public health are exempted. Tens of thousands of cats and dogs are used for research and experimentation in the U.S. each year. Many of them are beagles. Activists say nine states have approved similar bills.
Detroit: The CEO and founder of MeToo Kit, a company that is bringing to market a do-it-yourself sexual assault test kit, says she got death threats after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel accused her company of trying to profit from the #MeToo movement. “We’ve had people saying, ‘I hope you get hit by a (expletive) bus,’ excuse my French,” Madison Campbell says. “If the attorney general wanted to hurt a pair of 23-year-old and 24-year-old women running a small company trying to help sexual assault survivors, she won.” Nessel’s office sent a cease-and-desist letter to MeToo Kit on Aug. 29, alleging the company is in violation of several sections of Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act by “luring victims into thinking that an at-home-do-it-yourself sexual assault kit will stand up in court,” Nessel said in a news release.
Duluth: Fire officials say a blaze has gutted a historic synagogue. Firefighters responded to the conflagration at the Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth about 2 a.m. Monday. All that is left among the charred remains are the remnants of some structural walls. Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Brent Consie says it “is pretty much a total loss.” Officials haven’t provided information on the cause of the blaze. Authorities say one firefighter who was struck by falling debris was taken to a hospital, treated and released. According to its website, the Adas Israel Congregation is an Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish congregation with a membership of 75 people. Construction of the synagogue was completed in 1902.
Jackson: A group advocating for medical marijuana legalization has turned in more than 105,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot next year. News outlets report Mississippians for Compassionate Care submitted the signatures Wednesday to the secretary of state’s office, which now must review and certify the signatures. The group and activist Ashley Durval registered the Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative last year. Durval’s daughter, Harper Grace, hasn’t been able to receive marijuana extract oil for treatment of her rare form of epilepsy. A 2014 law named for Harper Grace nixed the oil from the state’s banned substances list. The group is confident voters will support the measure. Others, including Gov. Phil Bryant, say there’s a lack of scientific evidence proving the benefits of marijuana treatment outweigh any risks.
Jefferson City: The Department of Conservation is considering changing state regulations to help landowners combat damage from wildlife and feral hogs. The department said in a news release that the proposals would allow a conservation agent to authorize actions such as thermal imaging to take wildlife causing damage to private property. Landowners would have to obtain written authorization to use thermal imaging or night vision equipment for wildlife. Another change would allow a landowner’s representative to use thermal imagery or night vision equipment to eliminate feral hogs from the landowner’s property, with the permission of a conservation agent. The agency is seeking public comment through Oct. 31 and will make a final decision Dec. 13.
Billings: State officials propose to pay $3.4 million to ensure public access to a large area on the Yellowstone River. The proposed conservation easement purchase by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks would cover 15 square miles in Treasure County in southeastern Montana. State officials say that besides ensuring access, the easement would conserve habitat for big game, waterfowl, upland game birds and nongame wildlife. The DeCock Ranch Co. owns the land linking a wildlife management area, state lands and a U.S. Bureau of Land Management recreational area. The Billings Gazette reports federal funds would cover 75% of the purchase cost. Under the proposal, the ranch might require members of the public to request permission to access the property. Cattle grazing could continue.
Omaha: Plans by Mutual of Omaha to replace its headquarters have been put on hold. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the insurance company recently decided to put a pin in the idea of a new home base and instead focus on other priorities. Spokesman Jim Nolan says those other priorities include bolstering technology to support Mutual’s growing insurance business. The news comes after a more than yearlong study of a possible $200 million-plus project to replace Mutual’s current headquarters in midtown Omaha. The plan had been to erect a new headquarters fairly close by.
Las Vegas: An adult video and bookstore that operated the Las Vegas area’s lone peep show has closed, marking the end of an era. The Las Vegas Sun reports Showgirl Video shuttered last month, and the building it occupied will soon be torn down to make way for a marijuana dispensary. Showgirl Video was believed to be the last place in Las Vegas with a peep show – a place where dancers perform behind a window, which opened when a patron placed $1 into a machine, for tips. In 1992, the city passed an ordinance barring sexually oriented businesses along Las Vegas Boulevard, but Showgirl Video was grandfathered under old code and continued doing business.
Concord: Visitors are expected to spend more than $1.5 billion in the state this fall. The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development projects more than 3 million out-of-state, overnight visitors will spend time in the Granite State this fall season. Fall is New Hampshire’s second-largest travel season, behind summer. The division’s fall marketing campaign highlights activities such as hiking, leaf peeping, agritourism, dining and shopping.
Newark: Volunteers went door-to-door over the weekend to help sign up thousands of residents to have their corroding lead service lines replaced. Volunteers began the effort Saturday, passing out free bottled water and beginning to register the estimated 18,000 homes at risk due to old supply lines. Mayor Ras Baraka said the city is “working aggressively” to solve the water issue by replacing all lead service lines. About 250 people previously attended a meeting at City Hall to get involved with registering residents. City, state and county officials earlier announced a plan to borrow $120 million to dramatically cut the time it will take to replace pipes causing the problem. City officials estimate more than 800 lines have been replaced so far.
Santa Fe: The state is pushing forward with a multimillion-dollar effort to encourage participation in the U.S. census to preserve federal funding for schools, health care and various public benefits. The state launched its “I Count New Mexico” website Friday that includes a video message from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham encouraging residents to participate in the national population count next year. The state is offering $2.4 million in grant money to county governments that can encourage traditionally undercounted communities to participate in the first census with online access. The state website estimates New Mexico would lose about $3,750 in annual federal spending for each person that goes uncounted. The state estimates a 1% undercount would reduce annual federal Medicaid spending by $32 million and undercut health care services.
New York: The Sept. 11 memorial at ground zero has been evolving as the 18th anniversary of the attacks approaches. This year, when nearly 3,000 victims’ names are read aloud there Wednesday, a half-dozen stacks of stone will quietly salute an untold number of people who aren’t on that list. The granite slabs installed on the memorial plaza this spring recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terror attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage. Caryn Pfeifer’s husband, firefighter Ray Pfeifer, died in 2017 of cancer that developed after he spent months searching the rubble for remains. She says the new 9/11 Memorial Glade gives families like hers a place to “think about everybody.”
Raleigh: A Republican legislator says rewriting dozens of General Assembly districts that judges found to be illegal political gerrymanders will be “unprecedented” in state history because partisan data can’t be considered in redrawing them. The House and Senate held redistricting committee meetings Monday, nearly a week since a state court declared Republican mapmakers manipulated voting districts created in 2017 to help elect a maximum number of GOP candidates. The judges told legislators to enact new boundaries by Sept. 18. GOP Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County says Democrats and Republicans have used partisanship in their map drawing for generations. The judges also told legislators that all mapmaking must be done in public meetings.
Bismarck: The leaders of four American Indian tribes have signed an agreement with the state that includes allowing tribes to license foster care parents on and off reservations. The Bismarck Tribune reports the tribes attended a ceremonial signing Friday at the state Capitol. The agreement involves funding that gives money to states and tribes for foster care, transitional independent living programs, and guardianship and adoption programs and services. Tribes can access the funding through an agreement with states. State foster care administrator Dean Sturn says until the new agreement, tribes could license foster care parents only on tribal lands. Sturn says Native American children represent more than 35% of children in North Dakota’s foster care system.
Cincinnati: A permanent, 200-foot-high SkyStar observation wheel is coming to the city’s downtown next year. A release from Game Day Communications says the current 150-foot-high portable wheel is scheduled to be replaced in early 2020. The Hamilton County Commissioners unanimously voted for the permanent structure Thursday. SkyStar managing partner Todd Schneider says his team has been “overwhelmed with requests to stay part of Cincinnati’s skyline.” The new wheel is contracted to stand for 10 years. SkyStar will be able to renew the contract in five-year installations twice. The permanent wheel will be in the same location. The release says a portion of SkyStar’s revenue will be donated to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and ArtsWaves, a community arts fund.
Oklahoma City: Officials with the pension system for retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers and other state law enforcement officers say the FBI is investigating after computer hackers stole $4.2 million in funds. A notice posted on the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System website Friday said no pension benefits of any members are at risk. Gov. Kevin Stitt’s spokeswoman Donelle Harder says the theft is believed to have resulted from a hack of the agency’s email system, but the investigation is ongoing. The OLERS email system is managed by the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The theft was first reported by The Oklahoman. The executive director of OLERS, Duane Michael, didn’t immediately respond to a request by the Associated Press seeking comment.
Trail: Workers at Cole Rivers Hatchery have put in new plastic water piping as a temporary fix to prevent another massive die-off of Rogue River spring chinook salmon eggs. The Mail Tribune reports the work is intended to prevent a repeat of a fungal outbreak in December that killed 1.2 million spring chinook eggs and young fish called fry. The work is a stop-gap effort until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fixes the water system and worn-out elements at the 46-year-old facility. Officials say the die-off in December was caused by rusting metal pipes and bacteria in sediment that accumulated for years in the piping. The hatchery is intended to make up for the loss of wild spring chinook production due to the building of Lost Creek Dam.
Philadelphia: An art exhibit at a former prison-turned-museum is showcasing animated short films created by currently incarcerated inmates. “Hidden Lives Illuminated” showcases 20 short films and projects them on an outside wall, offering a glimpse into the lives of these inmates to passersby and museum visitors alike. Sean Kelley, the director of interpretation at Eastern State Penitentiary, got the idea for the project after seeing a similar exhibit in Chicago called “Freedom/Time” and secured a $297,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to bring it to fruition. Men at Chester State Correctional Institution and women at the Riverside Correctional Facility worked about nine months on the project, taking what amounted to two semesters of a college-level film production class. “Hidden Lives Illuminated” runs through Thursday.
Bristol: A law school is dedicating a classroom to the state’s first black female lawyer Tuesday. Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol says it will honor Dorothy Russell Crockett Bartleson, who was admitted to the bar in 1932 as the state’s seventh female lawyer. She was 21 years old at the time. The school says research indicates she was the only black woman admitted to the state bar until the 1970s. RWU Law Dean Michael Yelnosky says dedicating the classroom helps all Rhode Island lawyers learn more about the history of the profession in the state. Crockett Bartleson died in 1955. Her daughter, Dianne Bartleson of Surprise, Arizona, will cut the ribbon for the classroom. First Circuit Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson will deliver an address.
Columbia: The state prison system has added a psychological test to the drug screenings for new guards and other employees. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling says the tests were implemented to try to weed out bad matches for employment that have increased the turnover rate to nearly 30% annually. Stirling told The Post and Courier of Charleston the test asks applicants what they would do in certain scenarios. The answers can single out people who might be more tempted to bring in contraband or make a bad decision like mistreating an inmate while in a stressful situation. The new test has been in place for about five months, and officials say 12% of applicants have scored so low they aren’t considered for a job.
Rapid City: State regulators say Rapid City Regional Airport did not cause contamination when it dumped sewage on its property last month. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources says tests of the airport’s septic lagoon found its contents would have been safe to spread on land had airport officials sought permission to do so. A department spokesman tells the Rapid City Journal regulators also determined there was “no evidence of runoff or impacts to surface water bodies” in places where wastewater was dumped. Those results were corroborated by a private firm that also conducted tests. The airport dumped about 74,000 gallons of sewage on its property without a permit. The airport’s executive director said the open-air lagoon was at risk of overflowing following weeks of heavy rainfall.
Memphis: The city’s first Catholic bishop no longer appears on a mural of Memphians who stood up for others. Instead, Bishop Carroll T. Dozier has been painted over, replaced by Jose Guerrero, a founder of Latino Memphis. Facing History and Ourselves made the change Saturday after the publication of a Commercial Appeal article highlighting the fact that Dozier had appeared on a list of clergy “credibly accused” of the sexual abuse of a child. “We wish to extend our sincerest wishes of comfort, healing and strength to the victims and families touched by the scourge of clergy sex abuse,” Facing History and Ourselves said in a statement. The mural, intended to honor people who helped others, is on a wall across from the National Civil Rights Museum.
Port Isabel: The operations of the Port Isabel Lighthouse officially changed hands this month, with the Texas Historical Commission now taking the reins from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The Brownsville Herald reports the iconic lighthouse, which is the only one along the Texas coast open to the public, was built on the grounds of Fort Polk in 1852 and decommissioned in 1905. It’s part of Port Isabel’s branding. The lighthouse is where the city holds its summer movie series and market days and will continue to do so under the agreement with THC, City Manager Jared Hockema says. The city bought the land on which the lighthouse sits and donated it to the state. The city will continue to operate the lighthouse.
Orem: A man who has battled alcoholism and homelessness is now a local celebrity, regularly performing music on the streets of downtown Orem. The Daily Herald reports 35-year-old Scott Schwarz is often found riding his bike and playing the drums on a single construction bucket. Schwarz says he picked up the hobby about two years ago while transitioning out of rehab. He said he hit rock-bottom about a decade ago after losing his house and breaking up with his girlfriend. After trying to take his own life, Schwarz checked himself into a rehab facility. The street performer calls his drumming hobby therapeutic and says it brings people joy. “One of the beautiful things about it is it taught me to be OK with failing in public with great regularity,” Schwarz says.
Hinesburg: State and local officials plan to host a tour of the town forest. The Hinesburg Town Forest Committee and the Chittenden County forester will lead a public walk on the LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest. The purpose of the Sept. 28 event is to seek input on an upcoming management plan for the forest and to raise awareness of current restoration and management efforts. The 301-acre conserved municipal forest has been owned by the town of Hinesburg since 2007. A major focus of a new 10-year plan is expected to be the control of invasive exotic plants and the restoration of flood plain and wetland natural communities. The goal is to improve wildlife habitat, water quality and ecosystem health.
Richmond: The governor embroiled in a blackface scandal earlier this year is appointing a new top aide whose job will be to make government more inclusive. Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that he’s appointing Janice Underwood to a newly created senior position whose duties will include formulating a strategic plan to “address systemic inequities” in state government. Underwood is the former director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University. Northam faced intense pressure to resign after it became public knowledge that a photo of someone wearing blackface appears on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. The governor denied being in the picture but admitted to wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s.
Olympia: A federal judge has blocked the government from imposing a 50% wage hike for blueberry pickers. The Olympian reports U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. temporarily stopped the Department of Labor from implementing a July order raising wages for pickers. Zirkle Fruit southeast of Seattle sued to prevent the government from starting the new wage structure. The government notified Zirkle of the new pay rate July 24, a day after the increase actually took effect. Zirkle said it was blindsided by the mid-harvest pay hike. The blueberry harvest began in June and continues through September. The injunction will remain in effect until it is lifted or the case is resolved at trial. In the interim, Zirkle is required to deposit the difference between the old and new wages, as well as taxes, into a trust account.
Charleston: Organizers of the State Fair of West Virginia say attendees spent record amounts of money on food and carnival rides this year. WCHS-TV reports that state fair organizers said $2.5 million was spent on food, and more than $1.1 million went to carnival ride gross sales this year. Kelly Collins, chief executive officer of the fair, said in a news release that overall attendance was more than 160,000 at the 95th annual fair, which was held Aug. 8 to Aug. 17 in Greenbrier County. Collins said attendance at the fair was about average.
Holcombe: Students at a rural school district are getting access to mental health services with a new video-conferencing system to address a shortage of options nearby. Wisconsin Public Radio reports the closest mental health clinic available to students at the Lake Holcombe School District is about a 20-minute drive away. The district is about 40 miles northeast of Eau Claire. Prevea Health counselors will be connecting with students by video. Prevea clinic manager Nicole Califf says getting mental health services has been challenging for students who don’t have a means of transportation. Officials hope to have the program available in October. Students who seek treatment will enter a private room where they’ll connect with a therapist on a television screen.
Casper: A proposal to boost state revenue by storing spent nuclear fuel in the state would only raise about $10 million a year. The Casper Star-Tribune reports a panel of state lawmakers heard about the proposal last week and will consider whether that amount is worth the political battle to make it a reality. The discussion of the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee focused largely on potential environmental and health risks of having a nuclear waste storage facility in the state. Committee chairman Jim Anderson, a Republican senator from Casper, says if the revenue isn’t there, there won’t be any interest in the plan. The idea was introduced in July as a way to boost state revenue with the coal industry waning. A similar plan was vetoed by then-Gov. Mike Sullivan in the early 1990s.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports