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Flagpole feat, death row kidney donor, civil rights medals: News from around our 50 states




Montgomery: State officials said Thursday that they will move forward with plans to build two supersize prisons despite a bond sale falling more than $200 million short amid a volatile market and pressure from activists. The Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority hoped to sell $725 million in bonds for the construction project but was only able to sell $509 million. The bond issue is a key funding piece for the $1.2 billion construction price tag. State Finance Director Bill Poole told reporters that the state had hoped to “sell a little bit more,” but officials were pleased with the result. He said the outcome would not affect the construction, and the state still anticipates opening the prisons in 2026. He said the state will look at options for the remainder of the money, including seeking additional funding from the Legislature or conducting another bond issue when conditions are more favorable. Gov. Kay Ivey called the bond sale a “significant and positive step forward in our prison construction process.” While state officials blamed a volatile market, a group of activists and impact investors had urged buyers to stay away from the the bond offering. “They didn’t just fall short. They fell well, well, well short,” said Eric Glass, an adviser to Justice Capital, an investment fund that joined the call for a boycott.


Anchorage: Dozens of people experiencing homelessness will now camp at a city-owned site where bears recently tumbled through belongings, as a major local shelter closes. The Sullivan Arena, which provided shelter for hundreds of people nightly for more than two years, closed Thursday. The use of Anchorage’s Centennial Campground as a place for people to stay is seen as a stopgap measure, with indoor shelters full and Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration clearing illegal campsites, citing fire danger, the Anchorage Daily News reports. On Wednesday, the sound of an air horn blasted through the campground as a black bear and two cubs sauntered into the site. Individuals who were camping there and local health department workers tried to scare the bears off with the horn, shouts and claps. Jimmie Hartley said he planned to string cans filled with gravel on a fishing line around his site to warn him of approaching bears. Many of those who were arriving at the campground from Sullivan Arena had minimal gear. One major question is determining how many people the campground can safely accommodate, along with site rules, local Parks and Recreation Director Mike Braniff said. “Right now, we’re not allowing any fires here,” he said. “Food safety and bear safety is at the top of our list.”


Jerry Emmett, who was born before women won the right to vote in the U.S., leaves the Yavapai County Administration Building with her son Jim, Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Jack Fields, assistant Yavapai County administrator, after casting her early ballot in the 2016 presidential election in Prescott, Ariz. Hoffman said Friday that she is resigning due to all the “nastiness” she has received from backers of ex-President Donald Trump.

Phoenix: The elected county recorder and the elections director in Yavapai County are resigning after more than a year and a half of threats and heated criticism from backers of ex-President Donald Trump who accept his lie that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud. County Recorder Leslie Hoffman said Friday that she is fed up with the “nastiness” and has accepted a job outside the county. Her last day will be July 22. She said longtime elections director Lynn Constabile is leaving for the same reason, and Friday is her last day. “A lot of it is the nastiness that we have dealt with,” Hoffman said. “I’m a Republican recorder living in a Republican county where the candidate that they wanted to win won by 2-to-1 in this county and still getting grief, and so is my staff. … I’m not sure what they think that we did wrong. And they’re very nasty. The accusations and the threats are nasty.” Constabile was busy Friday doing a required pre-election “logic and accuracy test” for the upcoming primary and unavailable for comment. Arizona’s 15 county recorders are responsible for voter registration and ensuring mail ballots are properly sent to the more than 80% of voters who vote by mail. They earn just $63,800 a year, a salary set by the Legislature that has not risen in the decade Hoffman has been in office.


Fort Smith: The market for industrial hemp has not grown as fast as the plants in Arkansas, despite a promising climate for the crop touted a few years ago as a moneymaker and a new source for clothes, textiles, building materials, fuel and food. Although hemp plants with 0.3% THC became legal on the federal level when the 2018 farm bill passed, the market has not been as exciting, said Jim Correll, a University of Arkansas professor of plant pathology who has been studying hemp in the state. “There was a lot of excitement about the crop and how to make money. It has waned,” said Correll, who is studying diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of hemp and the yield. “The number of growers has dropped substantially.” There are about 20 industrial hemp growers currently in Arkansas, said Bill Morgan, a hemp research farmer who farms west of Fayetteville. Some farmers’ hemp has tested too high in THC, meaning the crop had to be destroyed. There were just 49 licensed hemp growers in Arkansas in 2021 – 78 fewer than when the program opened in 2019. The total number this year is expected to drop again. In 2020 there were 121 growers, and the first growing season for legalized hemp in 2019 started with 125 growers.


Sacramento: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a new state law that will stop police from arresting people for loitering for prostitution, an issue that divided sex workers and advocates during a rare nine-month delay since legislators passed the bill last year. “To be clear, this bill does not legalize prostitution,” Newsom said in a signing message. “It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women” and transgender adults, he said, nothing that Black and Latino women are particularly affected. The bill will bar police in California from arresting anyone for loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution. State Sen. Scott Wiener and other supporters said such arrest decisions often rely on an officer’s perception. While Newsom said he agreed with the intent of the repeal, “we must be cautious about its implementation.” He said his administration will track crime and prosecution trends “for any possible unintended consequences” and, if found, work to correct them. “For far too long, California law has been used to profile, harass and arrest transgender and gender-nonconforming people simply for existing in public spaces,” Tony Hoang, executive director of the LGTBQ rights group Equality California, said in praising the repeal. The measure also will allow those who were previously convicted to ask a court to dismiss and seal the record of the conviction.


Denver: Life expectancy in the state dropped for the second straight year in 2021. Driven by the pandemic, it’s the kind of decline not seen in decades, data from the state health department shows. The average life expectancy for Colorado residents fell to 78 years last year. That’s slightly lower than 2020, the first year of the pandemic, when it was 78.4 years, but the slide represents a persistent and significant drop of nearly three years compared to 2019. “The last time life expectancy dropped like this was in 1943, which was the most fatal year of World War II, for the nation,” said Dr. Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer. “It is tragic that we see life expectancy drop. Death rates increased by 20%.” Key drivers for the decline were COVID-19 and overdose deaths. The data vary by demographic group. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanic Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Native Alaskans, the data shows. Dr. Lilia Cervantes, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said she wasn’t surprised by the new numbers. “The Latino community makes up the majority of the essential workforce,” said Cervantes, a member of the Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce.


Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order Friday creating a new commission charged with planning the state’s multiyear celebration and commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing. The Connecticut Semiquincentennial Commission will be a state-level group, similar to the United States Semiquincentennial Commission recently established by Congress. The executive order requires the panel of volunteers to be wide-ranging, including not just representatives from historical organizations and state officials but also designees from the state’s two federally recognized tribes. The 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and subsequent formation of the U.S. will occur July 4, 2026. Former Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who officially resigned from her post Thursday to spend time with her ailing husband, noted that Connecticut requires all high school students to take a civics class before they graduate. “This is a chance for all of us to have that lesson and to have everyone included and to have a chance to review the incredible history here in Connecticut of the founding of this country,” she said during a ceremony at the Old State House. “And this time, we can retell it. We can include everyone.”


Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, right, arrives at the Kent County Courthouse with daughter Saylar McGuiness, center, Thursday in Dover, Del. A jury returned a mixed verdict Friday in the corruption trial of McGuiness, acquitting her of felony charges but finding her guilty of three misdemeanors.

Dover: The jury in the corruption trial of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness acquitted her Friday of felony charges of theft and witness intimidation but found her guilty on three misdemeanor counts. Jurors deliberated for about four hours over two days before finding McGuiness, a Democrat elected in 2018, guilty of conflict of interest, official misconduct, and structuring a contract with a consulting firm to avoid compliance with state procurement rules. It marks the first time in Delaware history that a sitting statewide elected official has been convicted on criminal charges. Even though fellow Democrats quickly called on her to resign, the misdemeanor convictions don’t prevent McGuiness from holding public office, and she said she still plans to seek reelection in November. The conflict of interest charge involved the May 2020 hiring of McGuiness’ daughter, Elizabeth “Saylar” McGuiness, who still works for the auditor’s office. Prosecutors alleged Saylar McGuiness, 20, was hired even as other part-time workers in the auditor’s office left because of a lack of work in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities said McGuiness then allowed her daughter special privileges, including access to a state vehicle and permission to work remotely while away at college in South Carolina, that were not available to other “casual-seasonal” workers.

District of Columbia

Washington: A truck hit a bicyclist and careened into a fireworks stand Saturday evening at an intersection in northeast Washington, killing the bicyclist and a man working in the stand, police said. No other injuries were reported. The accident at the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE occurred about 5:30 p.m., the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement. The adult male victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Assistant Police Chief Wilfredo Manlapaz said the driver of the truck apparently was suffering a medical emergency when the accident occurred and was being treated at a local hospital. The bicyclist was in the crosswalk when he was struck, Manlapaz said. A photograph posted online by the MPD showed a demolished stand amid scattered debris.


A damaged Pan-African flag flies outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday. Earlier in the day, person using a flamethrower set fire to the flag.

St. Petersburg: A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in Florida. Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters, removing a flamethrower from the trunk and shooting a tower of fire at the flag flying about 30 feet above the ground. The group says the man stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows him putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. A photo supplied by the group shows the flag with a large hole. St. Petersburg police said they were investigating the fire and working to identify a suspect. The Uhuru Movement is part of the African People’s Socialist Party, which says it is “uniting African people as one people for liberation, social justice, self-reliance and economic development.” Akile Anai, the group’s director of agitation and propaganda, said the attack is in the same vein as the May killing of 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. Police say the arrested suspect in the Buffalo massacre is a white nationalist. Akai said such attacks are caused by the decline of a “social system and facade of normalcy based on oppression, colonialism and exploitation.”


Savannah: A group of students want U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ name scrubbed from a building at the Savannah College of Art and Design. At the dedication of the building in 2010, Thomas praised his hometown’s hospitality. “You always long to go back to a place of comfort. The roots are here, and the roots are very, very deep here,” he said. The Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation is located in the former convent where Thomas spent his early years attending school. The university has removed the sign from the building but did not respond to emails asking for the reason. An online petition that had garnered more than 1,800 signatures by Sunday cites Thomas’ comments on the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, in which the court repealed the constitutional right to abortion. Thomas indicated he would like to see a repeal of protections for gay marriage, access to contraception and privacy in the bedroom, calling the initial rulings that granted those rights “erroneous decisions.” He also has been accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, who testified against him during his 1991 confirmation hearings, and, more recently in 2016, by Alaska lawyer Moira Smith, who alleged that Thomas groped her in 1999.


Overhead lights illuminate a tunnel inside the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Jan. 26, 2018. A Navy investigation released Thursday says a cascading series of mistakes and shoddy management are to blame for a leak into local tap water last year.

Pearl Harbor: A Navy investigation released Thursday revealed that shoddy management and human error caused fuel to leak into Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year, poisoning thousands of people and forcing military families to evacuate their homes for hotels. The investigation is the first detailed account of how jet fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, a massive World War II-era military-run tank farm in the hills above Pearl Harbor, leaked into a well that supplied water to housing and offices in and around the sprawling base. Some 6,000 people suffered nausea, headaches, rashes and other symptoms. After months of resistance, the military in April agreed to an order from the state of Hawaii to drain the tanks and close the Red Hill facility. A separate report the Defense Department provided to the state Department of Health on Thursday said December 2024 was the earliest it could defuel the tanks safely. The investigation report listed a cascading series of mistakes starting May 6, 2021, when operator error caused a pipe to rupture and 21,000 gallons of fuel to spill when fuel was being transferred between tanks. Most of that fuel spilled into a fire suppression line and sat there for six months, causing the line to sag. A cart rammed into this sagging line Nov. 20, releasing 20,000 gallons of fuel. The area where the cart hit the line isn’t supposed to have fuel, so the officials who responded to the spill didn’t have the right equipment to capture the liquid.


Two people stand on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol Building during a protest in downtown Boise on May 3, 2022.

Boise: It’s not clear whether a pair of laws from the early 1970s making it a felony to “knowingly aid” in an abortion or to publish information about how to induce one will be enforced alongside the state’s newer, near-total ban. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, lawyers in Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office are going through all the state’s abortion statutes with a fine-toothed comb, said Wasden spokesman Scott Graf. When the Legislature passed a trigger law in 2020 that would automatically prohibit nearly all abortions 30 days after the fall of Roe, lawmakers took some steps to avoid conflicts by making it clear that the law would supersede other bans. Lawmakers put similar language in another ban passed earlier this year. But they may have overlooked a few clauses in the decades-old statutes. The 2020 trigger law says the person seeking the abortion can’t be charged with a crime, instead focusing prosecution efforts on the provider. That would seem to override a 1973 law that makes it a felony for a person to undergo an abortion, but it’s not clear if another portion of the older law making it a felony to knowingly aid in an abortion could still be enforceable. It will be up to individual county prosecutors, at first, to decide how to proceed, said Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs, who is also president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association. From there, judges will figure it out. Ultimately, he expects legislators will have a lot of fine-tuning to do in the years ahead.


Chicago: A yearlong suspension of the state’s sales tax on groceries began Friday. Illinois’ tax relief program will also postpone a gas tax increase until January and cut school supply taxes from 6.25% to 1.25% from Aug. 5 to 14. “Starting tomorrow, every Illinoisan will get tax relief on essentials: groceries, gas, your home, and back-to-school supplies, with even more tax relief going into effect next year,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a news release Thursday. The measures are part of a $1.8 billion state tax-break deal signed by Pritzker in April. GOP leaders derided the measures as a campaign tool for Pritzker and other Democrats in an election year. The plan also provides automatic $50 income tax rebates for individuals who made less than $200,000 in 2021, $100 for couples filing jointly who made less than $400,000, and $100 per dependent claimed in 2021, up to three. Additionally, the Illinois state earned income credit will increase from 18% to 20% of the federal credit, and eligible homeowners will receive property tax rebates equal to their 2021 property tax credit, up to $300. Illinois’ 1% sales tax on groceries will be suspended through June 30, 2023, which will net $400 million in consumer savings, the governor’s release said.


The Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville, Ind., is under investigation after dozens of bodies were found in various locations around the building – some decomposing.

Jeffersonville: Police are investigating after more than 30 bodies, some decomposing, were found inside a southern Indiana funeral home. Police in the Louisville, Kentucky, suburb of Jeffersonville responded to Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center on Friday evening and found 31 bodies, including some “in the advanced stages of decomposition,” Maj. Isaac Parker said. He said the county coroner’s office had reported a strong odor emanating from the building. Inside, officers wearing hazmat gear found bodies “in different places around the building.” Some of the bodies had been at the funeral home since March, Parker said. Police also found the cremated remains of 16 people. “It was a very unpleasant scene,” Parker said. “The conditions were not good.” The owner of the funeral home has been speaking with police since Friday, Parker said, and an investigation is ongoing. The owner did not immediately respond to an email from the Associated Press seeking comment Sunday. The remains were taken to the Clark County Coroner’s Office for identification, and police asked anyone who may have information to contact the coroner’s office.


Hogs feed in a pen in a concentrated animal feeding operation on the Gary Sovereign farm in Lawler, Iowa, on Oct. 31, 2018.

Des Moines: The state Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a long-standing precedent that allowed landowners to sue for damages when a neighboring hog farm causes water pollution or odor problems that affect quality of life. The court concluded, 4-3, that a 2004 decision was wrong. The earlier ruling established that a portion of Iowa’s law providing immunity to livestock farms from neighbors’ nuisance lawsuits violated the inalienable rights clause of the Iowa Constitution. It also found neighbors could sue if they had lived in the area long before the farm began operating, had sustained significant hardship, and did not benefit from the nuisance immunity granted to the livestock farm. Justice Thomas Waterman wrote in the Thursday decision that “protecting and promoting livestock production is a legitimate state interest, and granting partial immunity from nuisance suits is a proper means to that end.” Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producer with 23 million pigs, most kept in large confinement buildings that collect nitrogen-rich manure from the animals and use it to fertilize fields. The court said judges must use a rational basis to review future court challenges – a standard that will be difficult to overcome because it presumes state laws are passed for the benefit of the public.


Lamonte McIntyre, convicted of a 1994 double homicide in Kansas City, Kan., was incarcerated for 23 years before the case against him was dismissed.

Kansas City: A local government has agreed to pay $12.5 million to a man and his mother after he spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City approved the settlement Thursday and said in a statement Friday that it admits no guilt in the wrongful conviction of and two life sentences given to Lamonte McIntyre in the mid-1990s. McIntyre was 17 in 1994 when he was arrested in Kansas City for the shooting deaths of 21-year-old Doniel Quinn and 34-year-old Donald Ewing. McIntyre was freed in 2017 after a local prosecutor asked the court to vacate his convictions and drop all charges, calling his case an example of “manifest injustice.” Prosecutors presented no physical evidence tying McIntyre to the killings, and their case largely hinged on testimony that was allegedly coerced. The following year, McIntyre and his mother sued the unified government and former Kansas City police Detective Roger Golubski, whom they have accused, along with other police, of framing McIntyre for the killings. Their lawsuit sought up to $123 million in damages. McIntyre and his mother have said Golubski coerced her into sex and then framed her teenage son for the double homicide because she rejected the detective’s later sexual advances. They also allege that he abused dozens of Black women for years and that many officers were aware of his conduct. Federal authorities are investigating Golubski.


Louisville: The Kentucky Court of Appeals rejected Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s effort to stop abortions in the state just two days after a court order allowed them to resume. Cameron is now asking the state Supreme Court to consider his case. In an order issued Saturday, appeals court Judge Glenn Acree denied Cameron’s appeal of a temporary restraining order issued Thursday by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry. That means abortions may continue for now while a legal challenge to a state law banning almost all abortions in Kentucky continues before Perry. Cameron had argued that Perry erred in allowing abortions to resume in Kentucky and sought to have the restraining order blocked by the appeals court. Lawyers for Kentucky’s two abortion providers filed a response Friday, arguing procedural rules and case law bar lifting Perry’s restraining order. Cameron said in a brief statement Saturday he was “disappointed” with the decision, and on Sunday, he announced he had filed his request with the high court, saying his office is “exhausting every possible avenue.” Meanwhile, Perry has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on whether to grant an injunction, which would continue to block the law while the case proceeds.


Monroe: A former north Louisiana police officer pleaded guilty Friday to kicking a man in the face as he lay on the ground with his hands behind his back during an arrest in 2020, federal prosecutors said. Jared Desadier, 44, of Monroe, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote to a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown’s office said in a news release. At the time, Desadier was an officer with the Monroe Police Department. Authorities said he and other officers detained a man for questioning and found he was carrying drug paraphernalia. The man ran, and officers pursued him. Another officer caught up with the man and ordered him to the ground. The man complied, and as the officer prepared to handcuff him, Desadier ran up on them and kicked the man in the face, authorities said. Desadier admitted in court that his assault was without justification, as the man did not present a threat to any officer or other person on the scene, Brown’s office said. Desadier also admitted he knew his actions were unjustified and unreasonable under the circumstances. Desadier faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is set for Nov. 21.


The playground at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's Child Development Center. A new military directive prioritizes services for children of active military member families over children from civilian employee families.

Kittery: Children from 47 families using the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s child care center are being removed from the program due to a U.S. Department of Defense order. Shipyard families were notified June 17 that the Navy is reimplementing a priority child care program access policy, which puts children of active military members ahead of children of the Navy’s civilian employees. The policy was scheduled to take effect two years ago but was delayed by COVID-19. “In accordance with the Policy Change Concerning Priorities for Department of Defense Child Care Programs Memorandum, your child has been identified for supplanting to accommodate a higher priority family,” the families were told in a letter. Given 45 days to find alternative child care services, the last day will be Aug. 1 for children from the affected families using the shipyard’s Child Development Center. “Child care is a workforce issue that directly impacts the efficiency, readiness and retention of the total force,” said Jeremy Lambert, spokesperson for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He said the “supplanting” policy prioritizes single and dual active military member households, active-duty service members with a spouse working full time, combat-related wounded warriors, and children of staff at the Child Development Center.


A Chesapeake Bay blue crab is trapped in the cull ring of a crab pot.

Annapolis: New restrictions on crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay will take effect this year after the blue crab count plummeted to its lowest level since surveys began in 1990. Tighter harvest limits are being issued as officials and industry leaders try to protect the iconic species and boost reproduction in the nation’s largest estuary. The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is issuing the first-ever limits on how many bushels of male blue crabs can be hauled in each day. Limits typically regulate the harvesting of female crabs to ensure that enough of them spawn. The new rules starting this month for Maryland limit the number of bushels that can be hauled in each day. The cuts will translate to about 15% to 25% of daily commercial harvest limits compared to the 2021 crabbing season, depending on the license. It’s unclear how much of an effect the new restrictions will have because watermen don’t hit their limits every day. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an independent conservation group, said the harvest limits are an encouraging step, but more needs to be done to address the likely causes behind the low crab count. Those include “poor water quality, loss of key habitat such as underwater grasses, and the proliferation of blue catfish and other invasive predators,” said Allison Colden, the foundation’s Maryland senior fisheries scientist.


Boston: A Republican former state senator who’s running for Congress has been charged after allegedly stealing a gun from an elderly constituent and misleading investigators about what happened, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Friday. Investigators said Dean Tran, 46, of Fitchburg, used his position as a public official to intimidate the constituent into parting with her late husband’s firearms, making her sign a pre-prepared contract and giving her $1,500 in cash for at least eight guns while visiting her in June 2019. When asked to return them the next day, Tran complied. But a day after he gave the guns back, he returned to the woman’s home, forced his way in and demanded a key to the gun safe, according to investigators. He then stole a Colt .45 while the constituent hid in her bedroom, investigators said. That gun was also later returned to the woman. Tran issued a statement Friday evening, calling the allegations “untrue and categorically false.” His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Investigators say Tran allegedly gave conflicting stories and reasons for taking the guns when interviewed by police, including denying any type of firearm sale, later producing a sales contract for the weapons, and disparaging the constituent’s mental capacity before demanding a written apology from her. Investigators also allege Tran made false statements on his May 2019 license-to-carry renewal application.


Detroit: Elevated levels of arsenic have been found at seven sites where buildings were demolished in 2017-18 and filled with soil, The Detroit News reports. The results followed concerns raised by federal inspectors that 200 sites may have been filled with risky dirt. Tests show unsafe levels of arsenic at seven sites so far, and an eighth “did not fully meet quality standards,” the city said Thursday. Detroit ordered a contractor to replace soil at seven sites and test or replace soil at another 127 sites, according to the newspaper. “Whenever we become aware of a breach of contract instance, we require the contractor to address the situation at their own cost,” said Raymond Scott of the buildings department. Arsenic is a natural element found in water, air and soil. Chronic exposure can cause health problems. “Scientists, pediatricians, and public health professionals are concerned about subtle and long-range health effects of low-level exposures to arsenic in people,” according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Detroit said temporary fences would be installed around the sites.


St. Paul: More households in the state are qualifying for a federal program that provides assistance with food at a time when inflation has caused grocery prices to rise. The Legislature, during its last session, increased the income limit for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from 165% of the federal poverty level to 200%. That means households of three making $3,600 a month or less are now able to receive food stamp benefits. Peter Woitock, a government relations specialist with Hunger Solutions, advocated for the change and said about 1,400 additional households in Minnesota will be eligible. He said many people were above the income level to qualify for SNAP, but they were still struggling to put food on the table. “We saw during the early part of the (coronavirus) pandemic a lot of policies that were put into place to help put food on the table for those who are struggling. But many of those policies and waivers were temporary,” Woitock said. Food shelf operators say visits to their pantries have risen 39% since January 2022, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. Woitock said SNAP also contributes to the local economy. “I think in 2020, it served over 412,000 individuals, so that was about $780 million of federal funds that came into the state,” he said.


Jackson: A look at how African Americans traveled during the Jim Crow era is on display at the Two Mississippi Museums. The Negro Motorist Green Book, a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, opened Saturday at the downtown venue, which is part of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, a Smithsonian affiliate. It includes artifacts from business signs and postcards to historic footage, images and firsthand accounts to convey not only the apprehension felt by Black travelers but also the resilience, innovation and elegance of people choosing to live a full American existence, officials said. Mississippi artifacts include items from the historic Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale and Hotel E.F. Young Jr. in Meridian. Two Mississippi Museums director Pamela D.C. Junior said she was ecstatic to have the exhibit housed at the venue. “During the Great Migration, families moved across the U.S.; thus, the necessity to travel and visit relatives was born,” Junior said. “Postal worker Victor Green innovatively responded to this need with a roadmap of havens to eat, rest and visit. This safety net was a key guide for people of color throughout the Jim Crow South and other parts of America.” The exhibition will run through Sept. 25 in the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Exhibition Hall at the Two Mississippi Museums.


Springfield: A legislator has resigned her seat after being convicted of falsely claiming she was giving patients stem cell treatments for COVID-19. State Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, sent her resignation letter to Missouri House Speaker Rob Vescovo on Friday. She was convicted in June on 22 counts including wire fraud, illegal distribution of controlled substances and making false statements to investigators. Federal prosecutors argued she claimed nearly $900,000 in federal funding for COVID-19 treatments that weren’t performed or had already been performed. They also alleged she promoted amniotic fluid as a COVID-19 treatment and other diseases by falsely claiming it contained stem cells. Her narcotics license was placed on probation for three years in January. At the time, she refused to resign her House seat but was stripped of her committee assignments and barred from party caucus meetings. The state GOP prohibited her from running for reelection as a Republican this fall. Her sentencing on the federal charges will be determined in the coming months, and the jury voted to allow the government to keep $300,000 in CARES Act money she received for her clinic’s COVID-19 testing that had already been reimbursed. Derges pushed in the Legislature to allow assistant physicians like herself a path to licensing.


Michele Vasquez (left) and researcher Souta Calling Last sit with Charlie, a Lab trained to detect several scents for Working Dogs for Conservation.

Browning: A Blackfeet researcher has received a $75,000 federal grant to run a yearlong study to train dogs to sniff out chronic wasting disease and toxic waste that might otherwise be ingested by people who hunt wild game and gather traditional plants. The project aims to protect tribal members’ health by letting them know where the disease has been detected and where toxic waste has been found to preserve safe spaces to conduct traditional practices, Kaiser Health News reports. Chronic wasting disease has been detected in just one white-tailed deer on the Blackfeet reservation, but once it’s present, it’s impossible to eradicate, according to wildlife managers. The disease is already forcing tribal members to alter or abandon some traditional practices, said Souta Calling Last, executive director of the nonprofit cultural and educational organization Indigenous Vision. And some families depend on meat from the deer, elk or moose they can hunt several months out of the year. That’s where the dogs come in for Calling Last’s study. Standing near a wetland full of cattails, she said the dogs trained by the nonprofit organization Working Dogs for Conservation will detect chronic wasting disease in deer and elk scat at such sites that serve as watering holes for herds. The dogs also will sniff out mink and otter scat so it can be tested for chemicals and contaminants in illegal dumpsites of old cars, furniture and appliances.


Democratic congressional nominee Patty Pansing Brooks speaks to her supporters June 28 in Lincoln, Neb. While Pansing Brooks lost last week’s special election to finish the final months of former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term, her strong showing has Democrats excited, and she’s running for a full term in the November election.

Lincoln: A special election that was the tightest race in decades in a GOP-dominated U.S. House district is boosting confidence among Democrats hoping to energize voters by tapping into public outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. Republicans still won the open seat as expected last week, but the margin surprised even some Democrats who have grown accustomed to lopsided, morale-crushing defeats. Republican Mike Flood beat Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks with 53.2% of the vote in last Tuesday’s special election, according to unofficial results. Pansing Brooks received 46.8%, with less than 7,200 total votes separating the candidates. The win was the narrowest in decades in the Republican-heavy, mostly rural 1st Congressional District, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 1964. The two were competing to replace disgraced former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican who routinely claimed at least 60% of the vote in his district before he was convicted in March on charges that he lied to FBI agents about an illegal campaign donation. He resigned shortly after a jury found him guilty and was sentenced to probation Tuesday in a federal court in Los Angeles. He began the process of filing an appeal Wednesday. Flood and Pansing Brooks will face each other again in November to determine who will serve a full term starting in January 2023.


A WWII-era landing craft, pictured on July 11, 2022, used to transport troops or tanks was revealed on the shoreline near the Lake Mead Marina in Boulder City, Nev., as the waterline drops.

Las Vegas: A sunken boat dating to World War II is the latest object to emerge from a shrinking reservoir that straddles Nevada and Arizona. The Higgins landing craft that has long been 185 feet below the surface is now nearly halfway out of the water at Lake Mead. The boat lies less than a mile from Lake Mead Marina and Hemenway Harbor. It was used to survey the Colorado River decades ago, sold to the marina and then sunk, according to dive tours company Las Vegas Scuba. Higgins Industries in New Orleans built several thousand landing craft between 1942 and 1945, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. About 1,500 “Higgins boats” were deployed at Normandy on June 6, 1944, known as D-Day. The boat is just the latest in a series of objects unearthed by declining water levels in Lake Mead, the largest human-made reservoir in the U.S., held back by the Hoover Dam. In May, two sets of human remains were found in the span of a week. Experts say climate change and drought have led to the lake dropping to its lowest level since it was full about 20 years ago. As both Lake Mead and Lake Powell drop, states in the West increasingly face cuts to their supply from the Colorado River. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said last month that the agency would take action to protect the system if the seven states in the Colorado River basin don’t quickly come up with a way to cut the use of up to 4 million acre-feet of water – more than Arizona and Nevada’s shares combined.

New Hampshire

Littleton: Graffiti that was spray-painted on an anti-abortion pregnancy center is being investigated as a potential hate crime, police said. Someone spray-painted the words “fund abortion abort God” on the side of the Pathways Pregnancy Care Center last Tuesday, Littleton police said. The act happened days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and gave full leeway to ban abortion back to the states. Pathways is a Christian ministry founded in 1996 that offers programs and information about alternatives to abortion. Police said the people who work and volunteer at Pathways are concerned for their safety and are taking internal steps to increase their security.

New Jersey

Atlantic City: The city’s largest casino employer said Friday that a new contract it reached with a key union provides for “historic” raises. And the parent company of the city’s top-performing casino said the pact is “a good agreement for everyone.” Caesars Entertainment owns a third of Atlantic City’s nine casinos: Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana. It reached an agreement late Thursday night with Local 54 of the Unite Here union on a tentative deal to avoid a strike that had been threatened for the July Fourth weekend, traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the casinos. The Borgata also reached a deal earlier Thursday. In a statement issued Friday, Caesars Entertainment said it has operated in Atlantic City for over 40 years “with an unwavering commitment to the community and its residents.” MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata, also praised the deal it reached with the union. Terms of the deal were not immediately released. But union President Bob McDevitt said Thursday night that the deal is “the best contract we’ve ever had.” The union said it was seeking “significant” wage increases in a new contract to help workers keep pace with rapidly rising prices for gasoline, food, rent and other expenses, as well as to compensate them for helping the casinos get through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

New Mexico

Temporary election worker Joseph Banar, center, disinfects voting stations as a precaution against the coronavirus while a steady stream of voters participates in the first day of balloting in New Mexico on Oct. 6, 2020, at the Santa Fe Convention Center in Santa Fe, N.M.

Santa Fe: Renewed efforts are underway to investigate and possibly discipline two attorneys who helped the Donald Trump campaign challenge New Mexico’s 2020 presidential election results in the weeks prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A group including former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and ensure an investigation in public view of the two attorneys who represented the Trump campaign for possible violations of standards of professional conduct. The complaint cites possible violations of conduct rules by New Mexico-based attorney Mark J. Caruso and another attorney, Michael Smith, who lists a Texas address and a Washington law license. The state’s chief disciplinary counsel and disciplinary board chairman previously determined in confidential proceedings that there was no violation of rules against frivolous litigation by Caruso and Smith. Caruso said by email that he was confident the Supreme Court would stand behind the previous finds, describing the accusations as “political claims by N.M. Democrat attorneys.” President Joe Biden won the 2020 vote in New Mexico by about 11 percentage points, or nearly 100,000 ballots. But the Trump campaign still filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque that sought to invalidate absentee ballots cast at drop boxes and halt the certification of New Mexico’s presidential electors.

New York

Albany: Legislators approved a sweeping overhaul Friday of the state’s handgun licensing rules, seeking to preserve some limits on firearms after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that most people have a right to carry a handgun for personal protection. The measure, signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul after passing both chambers by wide margins, is almost sure to draw more legal challenges from gun rights advocates who say the state is still putting too many restrictions on who can get guns and where they can carry them. Hochul, a Democrat, called the Democrat-controlled Legislature back to Albany to work on the law after last week’s high court ruling overturning the state’s long-standing licensing restrictions. Backers said the law, which takes effect Sept. 1, strikes the right balance between complying with the Supreme Court’s ruling and keeping weapons out of the hands of people likely to use them recklessly or with criminal intent. But some Republican lawmakers, opposed to tighter restrictions, argued the law violated the constitutional right to bear arms and predicted it too would end up being overturned. Among other things, the state’s new rules will require people applying for a handgun license to turn over a list of their social media accounts so officials could verify their “character and conduct.”

North Carolina

Raleigh: The General Assembly wrapped up its chief work session for the year Friday by finalizing proposed state budget adjustments for the new fiscal year, crossing off other must-do legislation but leaving some big policy matters unresolved or thwarted. The Republican-penned spending measure, which alters the second year of a two-year budget plan enacted last November, received strong bipartisan support again, as it did while securing initial House and Senate approval on Thursday. The bill would spend $27.9 billion for the new year that began Friday while setting aside several billion additional dollars in reserves and construction projects. It also contains additional pay increases for teachers and state employees, although they’re not as large as those sought by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who was reviewing the measure, a spokesperson said. He’ll have 10 days to decide whether to sign the bill into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature. With more than 30 legislative Democrats voting for the measure, Cooper appears hard-pressed to have any veto he issues stick should GOP leaders attempt an override later this month. The House voted 82-25 and the Senate 36-8 for the measure with little debate Friday, approving it after Thursday’s more robust discussion.

North Dakota

Fargo: The state’s attorney general has found the sale of more than 2,000 acres of prime farmland to a group tied to Bill Gates complies with a Depression-era law meant to protect family farms because the land is being leased back to farmers. Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley had inquired into the land sale and on Wednesday issued a letter saying the transaction complied with the archaic anti-corporate farming law. The law prohibits corporations or limited liability companies from owning farmland or ranchland, but it allows individual trusts to own the land if it is leased to farmers. The purchase of the land had raised legal questions, as well as concerns that ultra-rich landowners do not share the state’s values. Gates is considered the largest private owner of farmland in the country, with some 269,000 acres across dozens of states, Gates’ firm, Red River Trust, purchased $13.5 million worth of land in two counties from wealthy northeastern North Dakota potato growers Campbell Farms. In a curious move, the Campbell family in February filed a partnership name certificate with the North Dakota secretary of state naming their farming operation the Red River Trust – the same name as Gates’ firm. But an attorney for Gates’ firm wrote to the attorney general’s office that the Campbells registered the name without his knowledge.


Columbus: A new law taking effect this fall will establish uniform rules for carrying knives across Ohio to prevent municipalities from enforcing local regulations, proponents say. The bill’s main sponsor, state Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said varying regulations create a confusing patchwork of laws that are tough to follow and enforce. Her legislation restricts local regulations on knife-carrying but doesn’t change the types of knives the state allows people to carry. In committee hearings, Democrats questioned the need for the mostly Republican-backed bill. Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Akron, asked whether a change in law was necessary if no data exists to show the patchwork of knife regulations is a problem in Ohio. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill in June. It takes effect in mid-September. Similar legislation was passed in Arizona in 2010 and has since been passed in at least 10 states, Roegner said.


Attorney Don Knight hands over documents inside the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals office in Oklahoma City on Friday as he files for a new hearing for his client, death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Oklahoma City: The state’s Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set execution dates for six death row inmates, just hours before an attorney filed a motion for a rehearing in one case. Execution dates for James Coddington, Richard Glossip, Benjamin Cole, Richard Fairchild, John Hanson and Scott Eizember were scheduled, starting Aug. 25 with Coddington and followed on Sept. 22 with Glossip. Glossip, whose first conviction and death sentence were overturned, was hours from being executed in September 2015 following a second conviction and death sentence when prison officials realized they had received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used previously to execute an inmate, and executions in the state were put on hold. Executions in Oklahoma resumed in October with John Grant, who convulsed on the gurney and vomited before being declared dead. Glossip’s attorney, Don Knight, later Friday filed for a new hearing based on an investigation by a Houston law firm that contends Glossip is innocent. The report by the law firm Reed Smith alleges that evidence was lost or destroyed and that a detective improperly asked leading questions to co-defendant Justin Sneed to implicate Glossip in the slaying of Barry Van Treese, the owner of the motel where Glossip worked.


The endangered Fender's blue butterfly has seen its prairie habitat in the Willamette Valley shrink.

Salem: Fender’s blue butterflies are only found in the Willamette Valley, living in prairie meadows among the Kinkaid’s lupine. But their numbers have shrunk as their habitat has disappeared. Environmentalists and federal officials are trying to change that. One of the largest known populations of the butterfly exists in the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, in Polk County west of Salem. In 2020, the Trust for Public Land secured 183 acres adjacent to the refuge to protect the habitat for the butterfly. Now, a secluded area of woods and prairie southeast of Brownsville is being targeted for a habitat restoration project by the Bureau of Land Management, which could include cutting down conifers in a commercial timber sale to protect its Fender’s blue butterfly population. BLM is seeking the public’s input on the tentative project through July 13. Over the years, conifer trees have encroached on the prairie meadows of the Oak Basin Prairies, reducing them by at least 20% since 1875. BLM now is stepping in with the goal of protecting both the butterflies and their host plant, Kincaid’s lupine, which is federally threatened. Cutting down the trees would in turn expand meadows for butterflies and reduce competition for oak trees.


A state court on Thursday permanently blocked Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll as many as nine major bridges on interstates in Pennsylvania. The Girard Point Bridge was one of the bridges under consideration for tolling.

Harrisburg: A state court on Thursday permanently blocked Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll as many as nine major bridges on interstates in Pennsylvania, siding with three Pittsburgh-area municipalities that argued his administration had violated procedures in getting to the advanced stage of considering the idea. A panel of Commonwealth Court judges granted the municipalities’ request to effectively declare the plan dead because Wolf’s Department of Transportation had not followed the law. One key element on which the court agreed with the municipalities is the claim that PennDOT was required to propose specific bridges to toll when it asked the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board in 2020 for permission to move forward with a bridge-tolling plan. PennDOT did not, however, identify specific bridges it wanted to toll until months after the board approved a bridge-tolling plan. As a result, parties potentially affected by a tolling project, such as municipalities, had no opportunity to meaningfully give input to the process before the board’s decision, the court said. Republican lawmakers hailed the decision, while Wolf’s administration would not immediately say whether it would appeal it to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The loss for Wolf’s administration was the second in a row: A Commonwealth Court judge in a separate case in May had imposed a temporary injunction on the tolling projects.

Rhode Island

Johnston: In a town where politics is often a family affair, the Democratic primary for state House District 42 could wind up looking more like a family feud. Dennis Cardillo Jr. has filed to run against his uncle Edward T. Cardillo Jr., who currently holds the seat. A second challenger, Kelsey Coletta, is the daughter of another lawmaker from the opposite side of the state, Rep. John “Jay” Edwards, D-Tiverton. The younger Cardillo, who oversees the night shift at a Pepsi-Cola plant, said he’s more educated than his uncle and wasn’t expecting him to seek reelection. The elder Cardillo, a former mechanic, did not respond to interview requests. Coletta – a social worker who said she’d be a more active representative than the incumbent – has her own unique family dynamic. She’s advocated at the State House for liberal causes such as reproductive rights and a less punitive approach to addiction, while her father tends to be slightly more conservative. Over time, she’s been able to inform his views on some issues, she said. Dennis Cardillo Jr. didn’t cite any specific disagreements with his father’s brother, who has typically been aligned with the conservative faction of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. “I don’t believe in talking badly about someone, but there is a difference in education level,” said the younger Cardillo, who has a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Rhode Island. “I believe his highest level is just a high school diploma.”

South Carolina

Charleston: A cache of civil rights-era items with a local provenance has finally returned to the city, part of the holdings of the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center thanks to a donation from the Merrill C. Berman Collection. Avery staff plan to mount an exhibition in 2023 contextualizing and interpreting the materials for public consumption, The Post and Courier reports. The collection includes the original tape of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech delivered July 30, 1967, at Charleston County Hall, as well as a recording surreptitiously made of a Ku Klux Klan rally the night before King’s appearance. It also contains audio of Ralph Abernathy’s lengthy speech of April 1, 1969, delivered during the Charleston Hospital Workers Strike. The items had belonged to Columbia-based journalist Eugene Sloan, who covered the events and made the recordings when he worked for The State newspaper. Avery Director Tamara Butler said the collection will help her team update a narrative that has long portrayed Charleston as a relatively mild-mannered place that saw far less confrontation and violence than cities such as Birmingham or Montgomery in Alabama. There’s a reason King came to Charleston in 1967, she said, with groundwork laid by local activists over many years in one of the freedom movement’s essential hubs. Butler wants to use the new gift and the history it represents as a tool to find related testimonies of racial resistance and rebellion.

South Dakota

Fireworks light the sky at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D.

Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday said she has applied for permission to hold a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day 2023, persisting even though the National Park Service has denied her requests for the past two years. In 2020, a fireworks display, featuring a fiery speech from then-President Donald Trump, was held at the monument after a decadelong hiatus. The Park Service has cited environmental concerns and objections from Native American tribes in denying subsequent permit applications. A federal judge last year rebuffed the Republican governor’s lawsuit that sought to force the Park Service to allow her to shoot fireworks over the granite monument. Noem has appealed that decision. “As Americans all across our great country make preparations to celebrate their Independence Day, we have once again been denied the opportunity to celebrate at our nation’s enduring symbol of freedom, Mount Rushmore National Memorial,” the governor said in a statement last week. The Department of Interior declined to comment on Noem’s application. Noem is running for reelection and is widely considered to be a potential Republican contender for the 2024 White House ticket. She often cites 2020’s fireworks celebration, when she shared the stage with Trump, as a highlight of her first term.


Some of the seven Black people arrested after a racial clash with a group of white youths as they picketed an H.G. Hill store face a judge in Nashville City Court on Aug. 7, 1961. Diane Nash, center, a leader in the demonstration, said she preferred to stay in jail because "it's ridiculous when the police arrest the innocent party."

Nashville: Nashville civil rights veteran Diane Nash, who led sit-ins, coordinated freedom rides and was jailed while pregnant for teaching minors nonviolent protest tactics, will be honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The White House press office announced that Nash, and 16 others will receive the prestigious award Thursday. Famed Alabama civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, who attended school in Nashville and later led some of the most pivotal legal cases of the civil rights movement, will also receive the honor. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the “prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the White House said. Nash, born in Chicago, moved to Nashville when she transferred to Fisk University in 1959. Incensed by the overt racism she saw, Nash joined the Rev. James Lawson’s nonviolence workshops, where participants role-played as demonstrators and attackers to ready themselves for all possibilities. Nash was elected chairperson of the Nashville movement, and she and the Student Central Committee staged sit-ins at lunch counters across the city. The city’s lunch counters were the first in the South to desegregate.


Houston: An inmate who is set to be put to death in less than two weeks asked that his execution be delayed so he can donate a kidney. Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to receive a lethal injection July 13 for fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, a southwest Texas woman whose remains were found nearly two years after she vanished in 2001. In a letter sent Wednesday, Gonzales’ lawyers, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, asked Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day reprieve so the inmate can be considered a living donor “to someone who is in urgent need of a kidney transplant.” They included a letter from Cantor Michael Zoosman, an ordained Jewish clergyman from Maryland who has been corresponding with Gonzales. “There has been no doubt in my mind that Ramiro’s desire to be an altruistic kidney donor is not motivated by a last-minute attempt to stop or delay his execution. I will go to my grave believing in my heart that this is something that Ramiro wants to do to help make his soul right with his God,” Zoosman wrote. Gonzales’ attorneys say he’s been determined an “excellent candidate” for donation after being evaluated by the transplant team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. His rare blood type means his donation could benefit someone who might have difficulty finding a match.


The Rise Garden staff introduce their mission to the community and commemorate the first harvest with a ribbon cutting and tours Thursday in St. George, Utah.

St. George: Managers of the Switchpoint Community Resource Center held a ribbon-cutting and hosted tours Thursday to celebrate the first harvest of the center’s new RISE Garden, a grant-funded venture that endeavors to grow fresh food in a water-efficient way for southern Utah residents. Not only does the RISE Garden provide for those using Switchpoint services, but 80% of the harvest also goes toward the Southern Utah community each week, according to Linda Stay, Switchpoint’s development director. St. George Mayor Michele Randall and City Councilwoman Danielle Larkin made appearances at the ceremony and were among the first to purchase greens and goods from RISE Garden. “Switchpoint is the model for the entire state of Utah – and I think the country – and we are mentioned all the time, over and over and over again, for the great things we’re doing,” Randall said. Switchpoint uses towers that reuse water in order to take a more water-conservative approach to gardening. Subscriptions will be made available for those who want to make weekly pickups. According to the Switchpoint website, the garden uses aeroponic or vertical farming, and the RISE Garden saves 95% more space and water with no pesticides or genetically modified seeds.


The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch preserves the birthplace of the 30th president of the United States.

Plymouth: The community of Plymouth Notch – birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, the only U.S. president born on the Fourth of July – commemorated his 150th birthday this holiday weekend. The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch hosted the celebration of Coolidge’s 150th birthday Monday, with a Vermont National Guard delegation leading a march to the Plymouth Notch Cemetery, where a birthday wreath from the White House was placed at Coolidge’s gravesite. “Calvin Coolidge preferred understated events, but the celebration of what would have been his 150th birthday, on the 246th birthday of our great nation, deserves some pomp and circumstance,” Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer Laura Trieschmann said in a news release. The Coolidge Cup, a national invitational speech and debate tournament sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, also brought competitors to town for the weekend to compete for more than $15,000 in scholarship money. Coolidge served as the 30th president of the United States from 1923 to 1929, elevated from the vice presidency after Warren Harding died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Coolidge, a Republican, then won the 1924 election. The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site includes his boyhood home, the homes of relatives and family friends, his family’s cheese factory, and his father’s store, which was used as the Summer White House in 1924.


Director Dennis Darling talks to actors during a rehearsal for “Buried Deep,” a production by Endstation Theatre Company, at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., on June 21.

Lynchburg: As American citizens celebrated freedom and liberty in their nation on Independence Day in 1961, a government founded on notions of the inalienable human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness took action at a local level to deny those rights to their fellow citizens whose skin was not white. This little-taught chapter of local history is being brought to life in an original play, “Buried Deep,” produced through Endstation Theatre Company, affiliated with Randolph College. On that sweltering July day in Lynchburg, as many residents sought the relief offered by public pools, the city closed those pools down because some Black residents went to swim in the whites-only pools at Miller and Riverside parks. They were exercising their civil rights and making intentional strides toward integration and equality when many people were content to drag their feet despite a federal court’s recent ruling that mandated desegregation nationwide. Today, if one visits Riverside Park, an indentation in the ground where a pool once stood remains as a permanent scar of racial tensions in the not-so-distant past. “Buried Deep” is part of Endstation’s New Works initiative, a program that supports playwrights who create a script based on some aspect of Lynchburg-area history.


Everett: A nonprofit land trust has made its largest purchase ever to conserve 175 acres of forest and 3,500 feet of nearly pristine shoreline. Staff at the Whidbey Camano Land Trust said they knew they had to act quickly when a 226-acre beachfront property south of Coupeville came on the market last December. From the water, boaters may have seen the red house, old windmill, and cattle grazing atop the bluffs. The property near Keystone is home to one of the oldest farms on Whidbey Island. It also features a large forest and long stretch of beach. The site was at risk of being sold and developed into 22 high-end homes, according to the land trust. In late April, the land trust bought the property for $9.1 million, the most expensive purchase in the nonprofit’s nearly four-decade history. “We don’t get many opportunities to protect a chunk of habitat that size,” conservation director Ryan Elting told the Everett Herald. With the new property, called the Keystone Preserve, the trust will focus on habitat improvement and marine restoration. There are also plans to open public beach access as soon as 2024, as well as a trail network. The land trust has partnered with the Organic Farm School to manage the site. The nonprofit school on Whidbey Island will oversee the 50 acres of prairie and farm.

West Virginia

Hershel "Woody" Williams, center, poses with fellow Marines at the Charles E. Shelton Freedom Memorial at Smothers Park in Owensboro, Ky., in 2019. Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, died June 29, 2022 He was 98.

Charleston: Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday. “Woody Williams embodied the best of America: living a life of duty, honor and courage,” Pelosi said in a joint statement. Schumer called Williams “an American hero who embodied the best of our country and the greatest generation.” Williams, who died Wednesday at 98, was a legend in his home state for his heroics under fire over several crucial hours at the battle for Iwo Jima. As a young Marine corporal, Williams went ahead of his unit in February 1945 and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions. Facing small-arms fire, Williams fought for four hours, repeatedly returning to prepare demolition charges and obtain flamethrowers. Later that year, the 22-year-old Williams received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for military valor. In remarks at a memorial Sunday in Charleston, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said Williams “never quit giving back.” That included raising money for gold star families – immediate family members of fallen service members – with an annual motorcycle ride. “It’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Manchin said. He joked that “it’s not going to be stopping, because Woody would come after me in a heartbeat.”


The American flag flies in the wind at Acuity Insurance headquarters in Sheboygan, Wis.

Sheboygan: In four years, the city will lose its claim to having the world’s tallest free-flying American flag. The Acuity Insurance flagpole – the “World’s Tallest Symbol of Freedom” – stands 400 feet high. On July 4, 2026, the Flagpole of Freedom Park near Maine’s southeast coast is proposing to erect a flagpole larger than the Empire State Building. As the site is on a hill 315 feet tall, the 1,461-foot-high flagpole will reach 1,776 feet above sea level, which Flagpole of Freedom Park spokesperson Sarah Martin said pays homage to the year the United States declared independence. Although the Wisconsin flagpole will lose its distinction in the coming years, Acuity Communications Manager Paul Miller said it will still be a landmark. “The flagpole is one of the most visible landmarks on the Interstate 43 corridor and welcomes people to the Sheboygan community,” he said. “Many people stop to visit the flagpole, which is seen by drivers and passengers in over 50,000 vehicles that pass by our headquarters every day.” In addition to the flagpole, Acuity has a veterans memorial. There are 766 pavers with names of Sheboygan County residents who passed away serving in the line of duty in conflicts dating back to the Civil War. Miller said Acuity has no plans to increase the height of its flagpole because notching a record wasn’t the goal for building it.


U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection, delivers her “Time for Choosing” speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on June 29 in Simi Valley, Calif. The speech is part of a series focusing on the conservative movement to address critical questions facing the future of the Republican Party.

Cheyenne: The U.S. Capitol insurrection dominated Thursday’s debate among U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and her four Republican primary challengers, with Cheney pressing her Donald Trump-backed opponent on whether she agreed with the ex-president’s claim that widespread fraud cost him reelection. Harriet Hageman said there were “serious concerns” about the 2020 election but stopped short of repeating Trump’s false claim that drove thousands of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Even so, Hageman was dismissive of the U.S. House commission vice-chaired by Cheney that has been investigating the insurrection and events leading up to it. “They’re focusing on something that happened 18 months ago. They’re not focused on things that are important to the people of Wyoming,” said Hageman, a Cheyenne ranching and natural resources attorney. Republicans, she said, were being punished for “exercising their First Amendment rights” – a remark on which Cheney pounced as suggesting the insurrection was justified. Cheney’s role as one of just two Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel has stirred a backlash in deep-red Wyoming. The state GOP last year censured Cheney and voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican. “I will not violate my oath of office, and if you’re looking for someone who will, you need to vote for someone else on this stage,” she said during Thursday’s debate.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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