After Meeting With WV Legislative Leaders, Western Maryland Lawmakers Inquire About Joining Mountain State

Montgomery: The latest tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, a memorial piece set just outside the Rosa Parks Museum in a spot where a fountain was located, will be officially revealed at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday during Rosa Parks Day, which kicks off a week of Montgomery Bus Boycott anniversary events. A public viewing begins at 1 p.m. This memorial work of black steel spires in a “V” shape with an outline of Parks’ face was created by Montgomery artist Ian Mangum. “The museum hopes that this piece will help elevate Mangum’s work and provide visitors a new way to interact with history and Rosa Parks’ legacy,” said Madeline Burkhardt, the museum’s adult education coordinator and curator. It’s identical to a piece Mangum made a year ago for Maxwell Air Force Base, where he works as an assistant logistic superintendent. The Maxwell one was designed, built and installed in under three months. It’s across from the building Parks worked at on the base, next to the elementary and middle school. Col. Eries Mentzer, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, had the idea to create it.

Alaska

Juneau: Rep. Christopher Kurka, a conservative freshman state legislator, said he plans to run for governor, joining a field that includes Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Kurka, a Wasilla Republican, announced his plans in a video on social media in which he levied criticisms at Dunleavy. “The dirty little secret of Juneau and Washington, D.C. is that while most conservative officials talk tough about Republican ideals, very few have the intestinal fortitude, moral compass or even the intent to take the principled stand necessary to accomplish any real change,” he said. A message seeking comment about the Republican challenger was sent to Dunleavy’s campaign. Bill Walker, an independent and former governor; former state Rep. Les Gara, a Democrat; and Libertarian William “Billy” Toien are among those who also have said they plan to run. Voters last year approved a new elections process that would end party primaries and institute ranked choice voting in general elections. The top four vote-getters in the primary would advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Arizona

Phoenix: Former President Donald Trump has endorsed two Arizona legislative candidates who gained national notoriety for promoting the state Senate’s review of the 2020 election. Trump issued statements Monday endorsing Sen. Wendy Rogers and former Rep. Anthony Kern. Rogers has grown to prominence in pro-Trump circles for claiming Arizona’s election was marred by fraud and demanding the results be decertified. Rogers so far faces no Republican opposition. One Democrat has notified the secretary of state he intends to challenge her, though it’s unknown how competitive her district will be once final boundaries are adopted. Kern was the only Republican lawmaker to lose his reelection bid in 2020. He was spotted counting ballots for several days at the Senate’s election review despite the leaders’ promises that they would screen counters for political biases. Kern also was a plaintiff on a federal lawsuit challenging Arizona’s 2020 election results, which was rejected by a judge. Kern is running for the state Senate seat held by Republican Paul Boyer, who has infuriated Trump and his allies with his criticism of the Senate’s ballot review. Boyer is not seeking reelection.

Arkansas

Little Rock: A Republican panel approved new boundaries for state House and Senate seats that create a new majority-Hispanic district but still drew complaints that it diluted minority voters’ representation in the Legislature. The Board of Apportionment unanimously approved the new district lines for the state’s 100 House and 35 Senate seats. The board is composed of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Secretary of State John Thurston, who are all Republicans. Republicans hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. The redistricting maps were approved after the panel tweaked parts of the map that were released to the public a month ago. The new boundaries keep the number of majority-Black Senate districts the same at four. In the House, the number of majority-Black districts decreased by one to 11, and a new majority-Hispanic district was created in northwest Arkansas. That district, however, doesn’t include Democratic Rep. Megan Godfrey, who represents the area and has been an advocate for the Hispanic community in the Legislature. Minutes after the map was approved, Godfrey tweeted that she would not seek reelection. Democrats also said the map dilutes the representation of racial minorities altogether, saying the number of House districts where racial minorities make up a majority of the voting age population decreased from 17 to 14.

California

Huntington Beach: California reopened fishing along a stretch of southern coastline after barring the activity for weeks following an offshore oil spill. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said a ban on the taking of fish and shellfish would be lifted at 11:59 a.m. Tuesday and fishing can resume at midday. The closure in early October covered 650 square miles of coastal waters and approximately 45 miles of shoreline, mainly in Orange County. The decision came after testing to ensure the fish along the coast were safe for human consumption after pipeline owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy leaked about 25,000 gallons (94,635 liters) of crude oil in early October. The weekslong closure dealt a blow to fishermen who said customers didn’t want to buy their catch, fearing it was contaminated and walloped charter operators who run fishing trips off the Southern California coast. Some have joined lawsuits against Amplify and said their biggest fear is that the spill’s stigma will drive away tourists even after the oily tar that washed up on the beaches is long gone.

Colorado

Fort Collins: Four popular Northern Colorado state wildlife areas no longer require a special pass to access after the Parks and Wildlife Commission created an exemption for the areas at its November meeting. Bellaire Lake, Dowdy Lake, West Lake and Poudre River state wildlife areas were among 24 areas that received an exemption to the Colorado State Wildlife Area Pass, which went on sale May 1. The exempt areas were determined by site-specific factors such as enforcement and public accessibility, according to the commission. The three small lakes in the Red Feather Lakes area northwest of Fort Collins include Roosevelt National Forest campgrounds and are popular with kayakers and canoeists in addition to fishing. The Poudre River site contains land along the river in the lower Poudre Canyon and includes Picnic Rock, which is a popular swimming and whitewater area of the river. Larimer County is home to 19 state wildlife area properties totaling 30,939 acres of land and water. The annual pass fee is $46.48 (including a required $10.40 Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp, which also is required when purchasing a hunting or fishing license). Annual passes for youths (16-17 years of age), seniors (65 and older) and low-income residents are $10.07 with no requirement to purchase a habitat stamp. A one-day pass is $9, with no habitat stamp purchase required.

Connecticut

Uncasville: Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, the corporation that owns the Mohegan Tribe’s various gambling enterprises, said it has completed the $1.5 billion in financing needed to develop the first stage of a casino and entertainment resort in South Korea. The initial phase of the Inspire Entertainment Resort, to be built on Yeongjong Island in Incheon, about 25 miles from Seoul, is targeted to open in 2023. It is expected to include more than 1,200 guest rooms in three hotel towers, a 15,000-seat arena, a foreigners-only casino, an indoor water park, convention facilities and other amenities. Bobby Soper, international president for MGE, said the corporation is anticipating a “significant rebound in the tourism and leisure industry following the pandemic.” The Mohegan Tribe owns and operates Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, one of the largest casinos in North America. The Mohegans were awarded a license by the South Korean government in 2016 to develop a $5 billion resort at Incheon International Airport. It will be the tribal corporation’s first international project.

Delaware

Dover: Two Native American tribes in Delaware are buying back land that had been part of their ancestral homelands. The Washington Post reported the Nanticoke Indian tribe acquired 30 acres in Millsboro this fall. The Lenape Indian tribe is expected to close a deal in early 2022 for 11 acres near Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover. Behind the land deals are partnerships between the individual tribes and several other entities. They include the environmental nonprofit Conservation Fund, the state of Delaware and a private conservation group located near Wilmington that is called Mt. Cuba Center. Blaine Phillips, a senior vice president for the Conservation Fund, said the land deals are “about restoring culture. It’s about honoring their ancestral rights.” Leaders of both tribes said they tried for years to buy the parcels of the land. But they said that they either couldn’t make the deal come together or lacked the money. “We, the Indians, had free run of the state of Delaware before contact with Europeans,” said Dennis “White Otter” Coker, the principal chief of the Lenape Indian tribe of Delaware. “All of this land was ours.”

District of Columbia

Washington: About 100 firefighters fought a large blaze in an apparently vacant home in northwest D.C. on Tuesday morning. WUSA-TV reported. Crews responded to a fire in the 5400 block of Colorado Avenue Northwest to find flames shooting from the windows of the home just before 8 a.m. Firefighters upgraded the response to a second-alarm because of heavy fire conditions. The flames forced firefighters from the home and attack the blaze from the outside, using ladders and hoses. No one was inside the home at the time the fire broke out and D.C. fire and EMS said in a tweet that the home appeared to be vacant. All firefighters have been accounted for, and no injuries were reported. Investigators from the Washington bureau of the ATF were on scene to assist firefighters. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Florida

Tallahassee: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will include raises and bonuses for law enforcement when he announces his overall state budget proposal next week. DeSantis is proposing repeating the $1,000 bonuses law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians received this year. He also wants $73 million to raise the minimum salary for entry-level state law enforcement officers by 20% and give existing state law enforcement officers a 25% raise. “Increasing salaries for state law enforcement by 20 and 25% respectively is going to make a real difference for those officers, it will make a real difference for the families, it will help retain a lot of the talented people we have as well as recruit new people,” DeSantis said. The Legislature is still weeks away from releasing its budget proposals, and lawmakers do not have to follow the governor’s recommendations. But the House and Senate are dominated by Republicans and the chambers’ leaders have helped DeSantis pass previous budget priorities. And this is DeSantis’ final budget before the November election, which gives Republicans more incentive to let him tout legislative victories.

Georgia

Atlanta: At least seven colleges in Georgia and one in Louisiana are now offering classes about late civil rights leader the Rev. C.T. Vivian, and those involved in creating the curriculum hope to expand that number to at least 50 schools by next year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Vivian, an early and key adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who organized pivotal campaigns for equality, died last year at the age of 95. The effort to teach college students about him is being led by longtime friends and educators, according to the newspaper. “The life and work of C.T. Vivian provides a useful case study and a template for action that will both educate and inspire the next generation of servant leaders,” said Beverly Tatum, a former Spelman College president. The lessons use Vivian’s books and videos as a foundation, but professors can create their own syllabuses. In Georgia, Emory University and Kennesaw State University are among the schools offering courses based on Vivian’s teachings. Louisiana State University at Shreveport is also part of the effort. Vivian began staging sit-ins against segregation in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s leadership of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped organize the Freedom Rides that forced federal intervention across the South.

Hawaii

Honolulu: A $377 million rental car center with room for 4,500 vehicles is scheduled to open at Honolulu’s airport this week. Gov. David Ige and other state officials were scheduled to dedicate the center at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Tuesday. It will open for business on Wednesday. The five-story facility will allow rental car companies to house their operations in the same centrally located, covered airport structure directly across from airline terminals, said Ross Higashi, the deputy director of the state Department of Transportation’s airports division. Higashi told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the project will make it easier for car rental companies to control and maintain their inventory. Companies will have room to store, rent, fuel, wash and repair cars. Many customers will be able to walk to the center from the terminals, eliminating the need for rental car companies to run pickup shuttles on a constant loop. A consolidated busing system will transport remaining customers. Higashi said the project was built with revenue from a $4.50 daily fee applied to car rentals. Planning for the facility began in 2012 and construction started in 2016.

Idaho

Boise: An Idaho law banning nearly all abortions would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion. The court with a 6-3 conservative majority on Wednesday will hear arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. That law is on hold following a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The Mississippi law is also at odds with a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that states can’t prevent women from terminating pregnancies before viability, around 24 weeks. If those rulings are overturned, as Mississippi officials argued they should be, states would decide whether to regulate abortion before a baby can survive outside the womb. That would trigger an Idaho law, passed in 2020, banning all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. That law would take effect in Idaho 30 days after the Supreme Court decision. That law passed the Republican-dominated Idaho House and Senate with no Democratic support, and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little. Under the law, criminal punishment would be a felony and apply to the person performing the abortion, not the woman. Little in July signed onto an amicus brief with Republican governors from 11 other states supporting the Mississippi law now before the Supreme Court.

Illinois

Evanston: A sandhill crane that couldn’t eat because a piece of plastic was wedged on its beak is on the mend after getting a helping hand from a group of suburban Chicago volunteers. Shana Conner, a volunteer with the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, helped rescue the crane Friday after getting a call on Thanksgiving that the troubled bird had been seen in Rogers Park. “I was worried about this bird all night because I was like ‘it’s going to starve to death, and I couldn’t find it,’ ” Conner told the Chicago Sun-Times. After the crane was spotted Friday by alert neighbors in nearby Evanston, Conner rushed to the scene while two other volunteers tried to capture the bird. Scott Judd, one of those volunteers, said the crane didn’t give up without a struggle. But they finally netted it and Conner pulled the plastic piece from its beak. The bird was then placed in a cage and soon laid down.“It was exhausted; it probably hadn’t eaten in days,” Judd said. The bird was taken to the Willowbrook Wildlife Hospital for treatment and was being treated Sunday for emaciation and beak wounds. Judd said he suspects the crane was among some 20,000 sandhill cranes he witnessed flying over Chicago on Nov. 22 on their way to warmer climates.

Indiana

A sign sinks into the shifting sands at the top of the western edge of Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Park.
A sign sinks into the shifting sands at the top of the western edge of Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Michigan City: A towering sand dune at the Indiana Dunes National Park has kept up its inland creep, covering up an access road and threatening to bury a parking lot in the coming years. The park’s landmark Mount Baldy has largely been closed to public climbing since a 6-year-old boy was rescued in 2013 after being buried in a cavity in the dune that researchers blamed on decaying sand-covered trees. The dune lacks much stabilizing grasses, so winds off Lake Michigan have taken as much as 30 feet off its previous 125-foot peak, National Park Service Ranger Rafi Wilkinson told The (Northwest Indiana) Times. Sand from the dune moved about 10 feet this past year, covering part of a road leading from the parking lot for those visiting Mount Baldy and its nearby beach on the park’s eastern edge. The shifting sands could consume the entire parking lot and a restroom building at the site. “It’s an extremely popular place to park, but the lake always wins,” Wilkinson said. “Mother Nature always wins at this level. It would be impractical to remove that much sand. Indiana Dunes National Park drew nearly 2.3 million visitors during 2020, its second year with national park status.

Iowa

North Liberty: A nonprofit is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a plan to save a suburban Iowa City lake from rapid sedimentation that threatens to render it unusable in as few as 20 years. Jon Kounkel is president of the group, Friends of Coralville Lake, The Gazette reported. He bought a house in nearby North Liberty during the winter nearly two decades ago. But when the ice melted, he discovered the lake’s dirty brown water. “The lake was beautiful when it was frozen over and covered in snow,” Kounkel said. When he and his family went out onto the lake for the first time, his daughter pointed out the “chocolate bubbles” in the water. Kounkel said he has watched the lake declined as 1,300 acre-feet of additional sediment per year drops into the lake. That’s the equivalent of two Empire State Buildings a year. The Army Corps estimated it will be 20 to 30 years before the lake becomes unusable for boating and other recreation because of the silt. The group will look at several possible solutions, including setting up a watershed management authority that would work to reduce sedimentation flow into the lake. Other possibilities include buffer strips and silt traps to slow or catch the silt. One action not being considered is dredging the lake, which is costly and dangerous for the environment, according to Jonathan Wuebker, assistant operations manager for the Corps.

Kansas

Topeka: Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Janet Stanek, a former Topeka hospital executive, as the new secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Stanek most recently was director of the state employee health benefits program. She replaces Dr. Lee Norman, who announced his resignation Nov. 19. He had been the health department’s top administrator since Kelly took office in January 2019. “With Janet’s decades of experience as well as the relationships she has built across the medical community in Kansas, I have no doubt that she will be able to step into this role immediately and continue the agency’s critical work,” Kelly said in a news release. Kelly’s office said Stanek has held health care leadership positions in Pennsylvania, New York and Kansas, including 21 years at Stormont Vail Health Topeka, where she last was chief operating officer and senior vice president. Stanek also is board chair of the Kansas Health Institute, a nonpartisan health policy organization. Stanek will serve as acting secretary until the Senate confirms her appointment.

Kentucky

Lexington: The Kentucky National Guard said about 150 soldiers are deploying to eastern Africa. A ceremony Saturday at the Lexington airport honored members of the Somerset-based 149th Infantry Regiment as they entered federal active duty, the National Guard said in a news release. The unit will deploy under the command of a task force from the Virginia Army National Guard and provide security around the Horn of Africa, the statement said. About 200 other Kentucky National Guard members are preparing for a separate mobilization to southeast Europe in early 2022. They will work with the Virginia National Guard in a NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, the statement said.

Louisiana

New Orleans: Tulane University, a private institution in New Orleans, will be the lead tenant of a former public hospital building that has been closed since Hurricane Katrina flooded it in 2005. The school will occupy more than one-third of the Charity Hospital building. “The plan at this point is that it will be the new home for the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine – as well as laboratories, academic, and instructional space for the Tulane School of Medicine and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine,” Patrick Norton, Tulane’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement emailed by a school spokesman. The 20-story art deco building, which was completed in 1938 and covers a city block, was a hospital for nearly 70 years. Tulane will occupy a 12-story wing, university spokesman Mike Strecker said. The wing is expected to open in 2025.

Maine

Portland: A ski mountain is set to remove a derogatory term for Native American women from its name – two decades after state law eliminated the slur from names of communities and public landmarks. The leader of a group of investors that’s buying Big Squaw Mountain Resort in Greenville vowed to retire the name upon completion of the purchase, the Portland Press Herald reported. “It’s going to change. There is no doubt about that,” said Perry Williams, managing partner at Big Lake Development Co. “It’s about time,” Penobscot National Tribe Ambassador Maulian Dana said of the prospective owners’ plans. The mountain’s name was changed from Big Squaw Mountain to Big Moose Mountain after the state banned the word from public place names such as towns, mountains and lakes in 2000. But the offensive word had carried on at the ski resort because it’s a privately owned business. The word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, might have once meant “woman,” but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage Indigenous women, according to experts.

Maryland

Annapolis: A panel of state lawmakers voted Monday to recommend Del. Dereck Davis to become the state’s next treasurer. The Special Joint Legislative Committee to Select the State Treasurer voted 10-0 for Davis, a Prince George’s County Democrat who has been the House Economic Matters chairman. The panel heard from four candidates who are seeking the position before voting on the recommendation. The other three candidates were Jorge Cortes, Joseph Zimmerman and John Douglass. All four names will be submitted to the Maryland General Assembly, which is scheduled to vote on selecting a new treasurer during a special session of the legislature, which is convening next week for a special session on redistricting to create a new congressional map. The treasurer’s office is becoming vacant with the retirement of Nancy Kopp.

Massachusetts

Quincy: Sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod are picking up after a slow start to the season, experts at the New England Aquarium said. The aquarium has so far cared for almost 120 of the animals at its Quincy turtle hospital, the vast majority of which have been endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles. But scientists have also treated eight green turtles and two loggerheads. The turtles are treated for life-threatening conditions, including pneumonia and dehydration, a result of days or weeks of hypothermia and the inability to feed. “Early in the season, we typically see the smaller Kemp’s ridley and green turtles. The larger loggerhead turtles will start to wash ashore in December, though we saw our first loggerhead of the season on Thanksgiving Day,” said Charles Innis, the aquarium’s director of animal health. The turtles get trapped in Cape Cod Bay as temperatures drop and wind patterns change, and they quickly become hypothermic. The stranding season started late this year because of temperature fluctuations that kept water in the bay warm. The turtles are assessed and treated in Massachusetts, a process that can take weeks or even months, before being flown to Southern states for continued rehabilitation and eventual release back into the ocean.

Michigan

Benton Harbor: City leaders said they are accepting bids from contractors for an ambitious project to replace all lead water pipes no later than 2023 because of elevated levels of the toxic metal in the municipal supply. Because the “action level” for lead has been exceeded, for three years, the estimated 2,800 service lines generally must be removed over 14 to 15 years under federal and state regulations. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer promised last month to spend millions of dollars to replace them in 18 months. Benton Harbor formally invited bids last week and released details about the plan Monday. “We’re very excited here in the city to make that announcement. I know that it will be received gladly,” Mayor Marcus Muhammad said. Residents in the impoverished, predominantly Black community have been encouraged to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula. Companies will be required to use trenchless technology to minimize the disruption to properties. They will have to restore the condition of driveways, sidewalks and landscaping. And there will be incentives and penalties to ensure the work is done well and on time.

Minnesota

Minneapolis: Police are investigating a fight that erupted in a terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport shortly after a plane had landed from Orlando, Florida. About a dozen male and female passengers were involved in the scrape after two large groups of travelers deplaned from a Frontier Airlines flight just before midnight Friday, said Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “I don’t have the motivation for the fight yet,” Hogan said Monday. “That’s part of the investigation that’s going on.” A video of the incident, which lasted just over a minute, was posted on social media and shared by more than 7,000 people by midday Monday, the Star Tribune reported. Punches were exchanged among several people and some of them threw stanchions and broke chairs, Hogan said. Airport police responded to the scene in less than two minutes and Bloomington police were on hand at the baggage claim area to help “keep the peace,” he said. Injuries appeared to be minor and all of the people involved in the incident declined to be transported to a hospital for treatment, Hogan said. No arrests have been made. Hogan said police will assess charges after reviewing video and other evidence.

Mississippi

Gulfport: A green sea turtle named Banner has inspired a children’s musical, “Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga,” put on by theater students from Mississippi State University. It debuted at Mississippi State in early November and was performed on Monday at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport. The show, written by Mississippi State Associate Professor of Communications Tonya Hays and marine scientist and Northern Gulf Institute Education and Outreach Director Jonathan Harris, tells the story of Banner and his sea-creature friends who go on an underwater adventure. The story teaches about the dangers marine animals face, from plastic pollution and oil spills. Banner was rescued in Florida after being severely injured by a boat propeller. The green sea turtle is the world’s largest species of hard-shelled turtle. It is a threatened species in U.S. Atlantic waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The show featured student performers wearing puppets of various marine life designed by Mississippi coast theater veteran Tim Baker, of Gulfport. Baker, a professional sculptor, propmaker and special effects artist, has worked with Marvel Studios and Universal Orlando on multiple film projects.

Missouri

Marble Hill: University of Minnesota paleontologist Peter Makovicky, who helped lead a dig in Bollinger County that uncovered fossils of a large duck-billed dinosaur, said he believes the remains of many other dinosaurs will be found at the site. The latest fossils are a specimen of Parrosaurus missouriensis, first discovered at the same site nearly 80 years ago but not confirmed as a new species until the latest dig. Experts believe the plant-eating dinosaurs grew to about 35 feet in length. Remains of four of the species have been found in the same area about 110 miles south of St. Louis. Last month, a crane hoisted a 2,500-pound chunk of remains from the latest find from the glen of a wooded area. The fossils will go to Chicago’s Field Museum for further research. “We actually have something that’s probably a mass death locality, where we have a herd of dinosaurs dying and being sort of buried together, and individuals of different ages,” Makovicky said. The first dinosaur fossils at the site were found in the early 1940s, uncovered by a family digging a well. Experts weren’t sure what sort of dinosaur it was and the bones were shelved for a long time. A Missouri paleontologist purchased the property in the 1980s. A second set of dinosaur bones were found then. Beyond dinosaur bones, the teams have found remains of massive turtles, prehistoric fish, even crocodiles that might have been to up 50 feet long.

Montana

James Michael Parker addresses the judge during his sentencing for the 2018 murder of Lloyd Geaudry.
James Michael Parker addresses the judge during his sentencing for the 2018 murder of Lloyd Geaudry.

Great Falls: A Great Falls man was sentenced Monday to 65 years in prison for killing another man with a hatchet during a March 2018 street fight. A Cascade County jury in September convicted James Michael Parker, 35, of deliberate homicide, assault with a weapon and witness tampering in the death of Lloyd Geadry, 45. Geaudry died of a sharp force injury to his neck that fractured his spine and severed an artery, court records said. “A total of 11 people were involved in the street fight in Great Falls, prosecutors said. District Court Judge Elizabeth Best sentenced Parker to 55 years for the homicide and another 10 years for assaulting another person during the fight, the Great Falls Tribune reported. She also sentenced him to a concurrent 10 years for witness tampering. Best also ordered Parker to pay $14,000 in restitution. Parker has been in custody since November 2018, according to county jail records.

Nebraska

Denton: A garage fire near Denton has caused more than $1 million in damage to several classic cars and motorcycles. The Lincoln Journal Star reported the fire broke out Saturday in a detached garage. Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said the 50-by-100-foot garage was fully engulfed in flames by the time deputies arrived. Corvettes from 1956, 1958, 1962 and 1969 were destroyed, along with other vintage cars and four Harley Davidson motorcycles. The building was a total loss. Authorities said the fires cause was accidental.

Nevada

Henderson: Democratic Mayor Debra March said she plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2022. March has served on Henderson’s city council since 2009 and as mayor since 2017. She said in a press release last week that her platform would focus on economic development and diversification and draw from her experience attracting jobs to Henderson, which is Nevada’s second-largest incorporated city. There is no office-holder serving as lieutenant governor in Nevada. Former Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall resigned in August to accept a position as an advisor in the White House’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Although it wouldn’t be months until she entered the race, the Nevada Democratic Party endorsed March in the following days. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has not appointed a replacement for Marshall. Beyond March, Carson City Democrat Kimi Cole and Republicans Dan Schwartz, Stavros Anthony and Mack Miller have also announced plans to run for the seat. The lieutenant governor in Nevada is a part-time position, presides over the state Senate and chairs the state commission on tourism.

New Hampshire

Durham: Researchers at the University of New Hampshire are getting nearly $3 million to study how teens and young adults are affected when their peers harm themselves. The grant from the National Institutes of Health will help researchers explore how bystanders handle incidents involving self-directed violence, how often such incidents happen and the results when bystanders intercede. Kimberly Mitchell, at the university’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, said self-directed violence including suicide is a significant public health issue, but there is very limited information about how bystanders to such violence are impacted by the help they might provide. Researchers hope their work will lead to successful suicide prevention programs that also could help the bystanders themselves.

New Jersey

Paterson: City education officials paid their custodial services vendor $6.34 million during a recent 16-month period while Paterson’s schools were closed to students because of COVID-19, according to public records. The Paterson Board of Education has asked the district’s attorneys to investigate the payments, which were made to Pritchard Industries of Florham Park, officials said. From April 2020 through July 2021, the district paid Pritchard $6.34 million, records showed. The monthly payments varied greatly, ranging from $60,800 to $620,250. In eight of those months, the payments exceeded $500,000. By comparison, before the COVID-19 school closure, the district had been paying Pritchard $681,050 a month, according to public records. During the remote learning period, Paterson schools were open on a limited basis, mainly for such activities as the distribution of meals and Chromebooks. A few employees reported for work at city schools during that time – including principals and their assistants – but almost all other educators and students stayed home. Paterson Board of Education members said a portion of the money paid to Pritchard during the coronavirus shutdown stemmed from a state law adopted at the outset of the pandemic that required school districts to continue paying “contracted service providers” during a public health emergency.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: New Mexico oil and gas regulators are watching closely as increased seismic activity is being reported in the Permian Basin along the Texas state line. Under a plan recently rolled out by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, pending permits for wastewater injection in certain areas will require extra review. More reporting and monitoring also could be required and if things worsen, the state could limit how much wastewater is injected in disposal wells. State officials said the protocols were developed in partnership with New Mexico Tech and after getting feedback from the oil and gas industry. Division Director Adrienne Sandoval said New Mexico is trying to be proactive with what she described as a pragmatic approach. The protocols call for reporting and monitoring when two magnitude 2.5 events occur within 30 days and within a 10-mile radius. Within that area, operators will be required to provide weekly reports on daily injection volumes and average daily surface pressure and share that with the state when requested. If one magnitude 3.0 occurs, operators will have to reduce their injection rates – with higher reductions required closer to the epicenter. Between March and September, the Oil Conservation Division received reports of seven earthquakes with magnitudes from 2.5 to 4.0 in an area about 35 miles east southeast of Malaga in southeastern New Mexico. Of these earthquakes, four were magnitude 3.0 or greater.

New York

New York City: Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said he is running for governor in next year's election, joining a competitive primary race that became wide open when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned. Suozzi told reporters on a virtual news conference that he's jumping into the 2022 race. “I’m a common sense Democrat," Suozzi said. “I don’t believe it’s about going to the far left or to the far right; it’s about trying to find the answers to the problems that we face.” Suozzi represents Long Island, including its wealthy north shore, and parts of Queens in New York's 3rd Congressional District. He survived a tough reelection in 2020, gaining a narrow victory in the swing district that tilts toward Democrats. The open race to replace him will likely be highly contested by both parties. The Democratic primary race includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took office after Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations; Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation of the allegations prompted Cuomo’s resignation; and Jumaane Williams, New York City’s elected public advocate. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose term ends this year, has also been hinting that he might enter the race. De Blasio filed paperwork to create a fundraising committee last month.

North Carolina

Pilot Mountain: Fire crews are working to control a fire in Pilot Mountain State Park that has burned hundreds of acres. Meanwhile the N.C. Forest Service said there is a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits statewide until further notice. The fire that covered about 300 acres Monday grew by about 75 acres overnight, Forestry Service spokeswoman Christie Adams said. A team was expected to arrive Monday to take over management of the fire, Adams said. There were about 30 to 40 people involved in the fight Monday morning, she said. The fire was first reported Saturday night in the area of the Three Bear Gully Trail. The cause hasn’t been determined, Adams said. The State Parks and Recreation Department has said the park likely will be closed all week. The park northwest of Winston-Salem is known for its iconic knob that rises about 1,500 feet above the surrounding terrain.

North Dakota

Grand Forks: A former University of North Dakota student is accused of stealing more than $330,000 in federal coronavirus relief money, according to federal court documents. Enroy Duncan allegedly devised a scheme to defraud the government by filing a false application for Paycheck Protection Program funds. He is charged with wire fraud. Duncan falsely stated that his company, called “Homeinhome Senior Care,” had 17 employees and paid more than $1.6 million in wages, tips and compensation, court documents showed. The indictment said Duncan’s Grand Forks apartment was listed as the company’s address, but no records of the business could be found at the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office or Job Service. Duncan is living in Florida, where he made his first court appearance on Nov. 18, KVRR-TV reported. Court document do not list an attorney for Duncan.

Ohio

Columbus: Bernita Reese has been named the director of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, succeeding Paul Rakosky, who has been interim director since 2019. Reese was introduced Monday at the Beatty Community Center on the Near East Side by Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Derrick Clay, president of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Commission. She is the first Black woman to be named the city's rec and parks director. Her annual salary will be $180,003. Reese said that first and foremost, parks and recreation centers are safe, and she will be working on ways to make them safer. She said she plans on meeting with Police Chief Elaine Bryant after she starts her job in January. People have been concerned about park safety since two homicides in city parks earlier this year. Reese most recently was director of parks and recreation for the city of Huntsville, Alabama. She had served for more than three years as assistant director for Columbus recreation and parks, then left for Huntsville in April. In Huntsville, Reese developed a playground replacement program and worked with community leaders to increase athletic tourism.

Oklahoma

Perry: Authorities are investigating after a helicopter crashed in Oklahoma, killing one person and injuring another. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the crash happened Sunday in Perry, about 60 miles north of Oklahoma City. The helicopter was privately owned and two people were on board at the time, Oklahoma City station KWTV reported. One person was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken to a hospital, authorities said. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash.

Oregon

Portland: The Oregon Health Authority is offering to pay pharmacies $35 for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine they administer, with the intention to boost vaccination rates. Based on the health authority’s database, 79% of people 18 years or older in Oregon have received at least their first vaccine dose. In addition, the Statesman Journal reported the program – which launched this month – directly addresses staffing shortages at pharmacies, where growing workloads have resulted in long lines across the state. In some cases, customers have reported having to wait two or three hours to pick up their prescriptions. The state is offering to pay temporary pharmacists in order to bolster workforces, said Rudy Owens, a public affairs specialist for the Oregon Health Authority. However, the temporary staffing program is only available to independent pharmacies. Corporate-owned pharmacies are not eligible, but they can still receive vaccine payments from the state. To qualify for the payments, pharmacies must meet certain standards for “vaccine equity,” including offering multilingual signs for COVID-19 vaccinations, “expanded vaccine-related counseling aimed at boosting vaccine confidence,” and “a plan for ongoing evaluation and continuous improvement to ensure equitable access,” according to a flyer from the health authority. Owens said the state doesn’t have data yet on how many pharmacies have applied for the supplemental payments.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: Gov. Tom Wolf said he is not considering additional containment measures as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads overseas, but continued to urge people to get vaccinated. Wolf said there is no cause for panic, noting that no cases of the omicron variant have been discovered in the United States. “In Pennsylvania and around the country, the vaccine is still our strategy, so get your shot,” Wolf said on a regularly scheduled appearance on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh. “Get your vaccine. That’s our strategy and it seems to be working.” Infections, hospitalizations and intensive-care unit cases are rising in Pennsylvania and many other states. About 3,600 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, according to Department of Health figures. Wolf called that “very few” and said he doesn’t “see any need for Pennsylvania to do anything draconian at this point,” such as limiting elective surgeries to clear up hospital space.

Rhode Island

Providence: The median price of a single-family home in Rhode Island has continued to rise as the number of sales has slowed, according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. The median price rose 12.7% in the past year, but the number of single-family home sales fell 22.3%, according to association data. Pending sales also decreased slightly. Agueda Del Borgo, the association’s president, said the housing market will likely show more tempered activity in 2022 but the association still expects sales to remain strong. There were similar trends in the condominium sector, but pending sales rose 10.8%. The association said that could indicate frustrated buyers in the single-family home market might be focusing on condominiums. Sales of multifamily homes, on the other hand, rose by 8.8% and the median price increased 15% annually.

South Carolina

Orangeburg: Duke Energy is giving a historically Black South Carolina university $150,000 in scholarships to help train and educate nuclear engineers. South Carolina State University said the money will provide about 15 scholarships over three years in its nuclear engineering program, which is the only undergraduate one of its kind in the state, interim university President Alexander Conyers said. The money from the Duke Energy Foundation is intended to strengthen the utility’s relationships with historically Black colleges and universities and bring more diverse talent into the company. “South Carolina State University has a significant reputation as a leader in building the high-quality workforce our state and nation need today and in years to come,” said Mike Callahan, president of Duke Energy's utility operations in South Carolina.

South Dakota

Ellsworth Air Force Base: The primary adviser to the commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base has been removed from his post for what officials described as inappropriate conduct. Chief Master Sgt. Just Deisch, the wing command chief, showed behavior that demonstrated a lack of respect, judgment and professionalism expected of a senior noncommissioned officer, base commander Col. Joseph Sheffield said. Base officials declined to release details. “All Airmen should be treated with dignity and respect, and senior leaders should set the example for subordinates by exercising sound judgement and decision-making both on and off duty,” Sheffield said in a statement. A phone number for Deisch could not be found. Base officials did not immediately respond to a message from the Associated Press. Base officials said the command chief is responsible for advising the commander on matters such as morale, welfare, warfighting effectiveness and professional development of the nearly 3,200 enlisted airmen at the base. Ellsworth Air Force Base is the largest B-1 bomber combat wing in the Air Force.

Tennessee

Nashville: Gov. Bill Lee named Lisa Helton interim leader of the state Department of Correction after Commissioner Tony Parker said he would retire from his post. Helton will take over starting Wednesday and will fill the role until a permanent leader is picked. Helton is the assistant commissioner for the department’s community supervision division. Lee’s office said Helton has more than 25 years of experience in the criminal justice field. Parker is starting a job on Jan. 1 as president of a Knoxville-based criminal justice reform organization named 4th Purpose Foundation. Parker previously announced he would retire from the state this fall after almost four decades with the department.

Texas

Houston: A Houston man has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison after he was accused of using federal COVID-19 relief funding on a Lamborghini, a Rolex watch and trips to strip clubs, federal prosecutors said. Lee Price III, 30, was sentenced Monday to 110 months in prison. Price pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and money laundering. “Mr. Price hopes that others will learn from his reckoning that there is no easy money,” Price’s attoney Tom Berg said in an email to news outlets. “He has the balance of the 110-month sentence to reflect, repent and rebuild his misspent life.” Prosecutors accused Price of fraudulently using more than $1.6 million in funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, which gave low-interest loans to small businesses struggling during the pandemic. According to prosecutors, Price also used the money to buy an $85,000 pickup truck and to pay off a loan on a residential property.

Utah

St. George: Zion National Park is halting its shuttle service for the winter season. Patrons can drive their vehicles up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive starting Monday until Dec. 23, when the shuttle service will reopen for 10 days during the holiday season. As the number of annual visitors to Zion National Park recently reached a peak of nearly 4.52 million – a record for the park – officials are warning of packed parking lots and potential closures throughout the winter. During the 10-day shuttle run next month, private cars will not be allowed up the Scenic Drive, but will be allowed back on Jan. 2. Weekend shuttle service will resume in mid-February and daily shuttle service will resume in mid-March. Officials said to check on the park's website next year for more specific dates.

Vermont

Barton: Gov. Phil Scott celebrated the beginning of the state’s unofficial Christmas tree season Monday by cutting trees for the Montpelier building where his office is located. The trees cut by Scott and Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts at the Maple Hill Farm in Barton will decorate the Pavilion Building. “This is a time of year to take note of the good and unite around the true meaning behind each of the seasons’ traditions: Togetherness, community and hope,” Scott said in a statement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said as of 2017, there were 3,650 acres of Christmas tree production in Vermont across 70 farms. The crop is worth more than $2.6 million. Jim Horst of the New Hampshire-Vermont Christmas Tree Association said many Vermonters bring to market Christmas trees, wreaths, garland and other decorative items. “Many trees are sold to the wholesale market for ultimate resale throughout the region,” Horst said. “Others, though, are sold directly to the consumer, who enjoy the process of actually visiting the farm and taking part in the ‘cut your own’ experience.”

Virginia

Richmond: Enrollment at Virginia’s public schools has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to state data. Last year, 44,000 students left the state’s public schools, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Even after the state mandated reopening schools for five days a week, the number of students lagged by 46,000 students this year, compared to 2019. Henrico’s enrollment dropped below 50,000 students for the first time in more than a decade at 49,991 students. The district said it lost 1,400 students last year and saw a 118% increase in the number of students who left to attend private school. Much of the loss is in early grade levels. About 80,000 kindergartners enrolled last school year, nearly 12,000 fewer than the previous school year. This year, kindergarten enrollment grew to around 87,000, which is an increase, but not a return to pre-pandemic levels. The enrollment loss could affect how much the legislature is willing to offer in local budgets, unless it holds school districts harmless for enrollment loss like last year.

Washington

Repairs on the closed West Seattle Bridge are on schedule and the bridge should reopen for vehicular traffic sometime in mid-2022. Seattle closed the bridge abruptly in March 2020 after questions were raised about its structural integrity following the discovery of cracks.
Repairs on the closed West Seattle Bridge are on schedule and the bridge should reopen for vehicular traffic sometime in mid-2022. Seattle closed the bridge abruptly in March 2020 after questions were raised about its structural integrity following the discovery of cracks.

Seattle: Mayor Jenny Durkan said repairs on the closed West Seattle Bridge are on schedule and the bridge should reopen for vehicular traffic sometime in mid-2022. Durkan said in a news conference that the city is on time and on budget, adding that the city knows the timeline still seems too slow for the communities being impacted, KOMO-TV reported. “We really are moving forward,” she said. The city closed the bridge abruptly in March 2020 after questions were raised about its structural integrity following the discovery of cracks. The bridge opened in 1984 and was projected to have a life of at least 40 years. The city opted to repair instead of replace the bridge to reopen it sooner for the thousands of motorists who use it daily. A West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Cost-Benefit Analysis report concluded the city could proceed with spending $47 million to repair the bridge. The bridge closure has caused ongoing traffic gridlock in the area. Durkan said the bridge is an economic driver in the city and state. Officials said the city secured $19 million in funding from the federal government to help pay for the needed repairs, along with $9 million from the Port of Seattle.

West Virginia

Charleston: The West Virginia Turnpike saw a big leap in traffic numbers during Thanksgiving week compared with the same week last year. Turnpike booths saw almost 733,000 vehicles pass through between Tuesday and Sunday, almost 30% more than the same period in 2020, the Department of Transportation said. Wednesday and Sunday were the busiest days on the Turnpike. Nearly 157,000 vehicles went through toll booths Wednesday and more than 165,000 on Sunday. The state Parkways Authority and the West Virginia Tourism Office came up with colorful wrappings for toll booths showing visitors what the state offers. There were strong sales during the week at Tamarack, Turnpike travel plazas and welcome centers, the Transportation Department said.

Wisconsin

Madison: Hunters killed thousands fewer deer during Wisconsin’s nine-day gun season this year than in 2020, according to preliminary state Department of Natural Resources data. The DNR offers multiple deer hunting seasons each fall, but the nine-day season remains the pinnacle for hunters. It began at dawn on Nov. 20 and ran until nightfall Sunday. Hunters killed 175,667 deer, down 8% from the 190,646 killed during the 2020 nine-day stretch. The number of bucks killed was down 1.3% from last year. The antlerless take was down 13%. Hunters killed 9.3% more deer in the northern forest management zone this year than last, the only one of the state’s four management zones that saw an increase. The southern farmland zone, which includes most of the southern third of the state, saw a 17% drop in kills. The number of hunters who could have ventured into the woods remained virtually unchanged from 2020. The DNR reported it sold 564,440 hunting licenses that would allow someone to kill a deer using a gun during any of the state’s multiple gun seasons as of the Sunday close. That’s down about 0.8% from the 564,440 licenses sold at the same point last year.

Wyoming

Casper: A Wyoming woman died Saturday when a car she was traveling in rolled along U.S. Highway 20-26 between Casper and Glenrock. The Wyoming Highway Patrol identified the victim as 32-year-old Lindsay Ritter, the Casper Star Tribune reported. The crash occurred about 7:45 p.m. Saturday as Ritter was traveling east in a Chevrolet Impala. The sedan drove off the road to the right, overcorrected to the left and then lost control, according to a highway patrol report. The report did not list any contributing factors to the crash.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States

Source : https://news.yahoo.com/sea-turtle-musical-rosa-parks-054452045.html

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