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Pumpkin surgeons, ‘Wild’ exhibit, White House groundskeeper: News from around our 50 states




Mobile: Descendants of the steamship owner responsible for illegally bringing 110 African captives to America aboard the last U.S. slave ship have ended generations of public silence, calling his actions more than 160 years ago “evil and unforgivable.” In a statement released to NBC News, members of Timothy Meaher’s family – which is still prominent around Mobile – said what Meaher did on the eve of the Civil War “had consequences that have impacted generations of people.” “Our family has been silent for too long on this matter. However, we are hopeful that we – the current generation of the Meaher family – can start a new chapter,” said the statement, which came amid the release of “Descendant,” a new documentary about the people who were brought to the United States aboard the slave ship Clotilda and their families. The film was acquired by Netflix and Higher Ground, the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama. The Meaher family has started meeting with leaders of the community in and around Africatown, the community begun by the Africans in north Mobile after they were released from slavery in 1865, the statement said. Clotilda Descendants Association President Jeremy Ellis said the organization had been in contact with the Meaher family by email, and members hope for face-to-face talks.


Juneau: Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Alaskans want results, not “partisan political rhetoric,” as she faced Donald Trump-backed Republican rival Kelly Tshibaka in a televised debate Thursday. Tshibaka questioned the value of Murkowski’s seniority and said it’s time for a change. Murkowski “cannot accomplish in the next six years what she hasn’t been able to accomplish in the last 21 years,” Tshibaka said. Murkowski, who has held the seat since late 2002 and is the most senior member of Alaska’s congressional delegation, said the race is about “who can best deliver for Alaska.” She pointed to and defended her record. The debate, held less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 ranked-choice election, also included Democrat Pat Chesbro, who has significantly trailed Murkowski and Tshibaka in fundraising. The other candidate on the ballot, Republican Buzz Kelley, who finished fourth in the August primary, last month suspended his campaign and endorsed Tshibaka. Trump, who came to Alaska in July for a rally with Tshibaka and Sarah Palin, whose U.S. House run he’s endorsed, participated in a tele-rally for Tshibaka last week. He called Murkowski “one of the worst senators even imaginable,” criticizing her for voting for the “insane impeachment” and for opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination.


A group of people watch a woman deposit a ballot at the Maricopa County early ballot drop box Oct. 24 in Mesa, Ariz.

Phoenix: A federal judge refused Friday to bar a group from monitoring outdoor ballot boxes in Maricopa County – where watchers have shown up armed and in ballistic vests – saying to do so could violate the monitors’ constitutional rights. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said the case remained open, and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans could try again to make its argument against a group calling itself Clean Elections USA. A second plaintiff, Voto Latino, was removed from the case. Liburdi concluded that “while this case certainly presents serious questions, the Court cannot craft an injunction without violating the First Amendment.” The judge is a Trump appointee and a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization. Local and federal law enforcement have been alarmed by reports of people, some masked and armed, watching 24-hour ballot boxes in Maricopa County and rural Yavapai County as midterm elections near. Some voters have complained of voter intimidation after people watching the boxes took photos and videos and followed voters. “Plaintiffs have not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat,” the judge wrote. “On this record, Defendants have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”


Fort Smith: Students from Northside High School have made bed frames for children in need. The city’s school district, Rotary Club of Fort Smith, the Community Rescue Mission, and the Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization joined forces on the hand-crafted bed construction project. According to SHP, 3% of children ages 3-17 nationwide do not have a bed in which to sleep. On Friday, 25 students from Northside’s construction class put their knowledge and skills to work in an effort to build beds for needy children. The SHP organization will deliver 30 new beds, along with mattresses and bedding, to area homes. “This project gives our students a chance to serve their community while enhancing their skill set,” Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent Terry Morawski said. Fort Smith Rotary Club volunteer member Ken Colley said his group was “very excited” to lend a hand. “No kid should sleep on the floor in our town,” Colley said. “Studies have shown that if a child has a good night’s sleep, they will be much more apt to stay alert in the classroom and be able to focus and remember what they learn.”


Los Angeles: A man who spent more than 38 years behind bars for a 1983 murder and two attempted murders has been released from prison after long-untested DNA evidence pointed to a different person, the Los Angeles County district attorney said Friday. The conviction of Maurice Hastings, 69, and a life sentence were vacated during an Oct. 20 court hearing at the request of prosecutors and his lawyers from the Los Angeles Innocence Project at California State University, Los Angeles. “I prayed for many years that this day would come,” Hastings said at a news conference Friday. “I am not pointing fingers. I am not standing up here a bitter man, but I just want to enjoy my life now while I have it.” “What has happened to Mr. Hastings is a terrible injustice,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “The justice system is not perfect, and when we learn of new evidence which causes us to lose confidence in a conviction, it is our obligation to act swiftly.” The victim in the case, Roberta Wydermyer, was sexually assaulted and killed by a single gunshot to the head, authorities said. Her body was found in the trunk of her vehicle in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. A suspect identified through DNA testing last year had died in prison in 2020, according to state officials.


Denver: A wildfire that destroyed nearly 1,100 homes and businesses in suburban Denver last winter caused more than $2 billion in losses, making it by far the costliest in Colorado history, the state insurance commissioner said. Commissioner Michael Conway provided the updated estimate this month during a meeting with residents who lost homes to the so-called Marshall Fire in Boulder County and other Colorado wildfires in recent years, The Denver Post reports. The Boulder County fire broke out unusually late in December following months of drought and is blamed for at least one death. Official estimates released days after the fire put the losses at more than $500 million. Experts say the winter grassland fire that blew up along Colorado’s Front Range was rare, but similar events will be more common in the coming years as climate change warms the planet, sucking the moisture out of plants, and as suburbs grow in fire-prone areas. Conway said additional insurance claims and assessments of the scope of rebuilding from the wildfire prompted the new estimate. “We’re estimating now it will be $2 billion in claims if not more,” he told residents. Investigators have yet to determine what caused the Dec. 30 fire, which was fed by winds up to 100 mph and raced from the Rocky Mountain foothills eastward through unincorporated Boulder County and into the cities of Superior and Louisville.


Hartford: As part of his campaign to win over blue state voters, the Republican candidate for governor, Bob Stefanowski, is trying to capitalize on any lingering resentment over safety precautions taken at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the businessman pledged never to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for schoolchildren, joining Republicans who made similar promises after a national panel advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add the shots to lists of recommended vaccinations for kids and adults. Stefanowski has complained that the state’s old mask mandate in schools, which ended in most districts in late February after campuses were allowed to reopen for in-person learning with masks in August 2020, lasted too long. In his proposed “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” he said families shouldn’t be “forced by the government to vaccinate or mask their children without any recourse to object.” “It’s up to the person. They should have the choice,” Stefanowski said. Stefanowski’s opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for “public or private employees or anyone else” is in line with other Republicans who have campaigned this election season on promises to protect individual liberty in public health.


Wilmington: President Joe Biden returned to his home state to cast his ballot for the midterm election Saturday afternoon. He was joined by his 18-year-old granddaughter Natalie, a first-time voter. The two arrived at the Shipyard Shops polling location on the Wilmington Riverfront at 4:15 p.m., a few hours after the president watched Natalie Biden’s field hockey game at St. Andrew’s in Middletown. The two of them walked through the doors of the polling place hand in hand after greeting a constituent leaving the building. Secret Service and local police officers were posted outside as the Bidens voted, drawing the attention of others who had come to vote early. They took photos and posted on social media, surprised to see the president there. When the Bidens emerged from the voting booths, White House staff said Joe and Natalie Biden placed “I Voted” stickers on each others’ shirts. The president then gave his granddaughter a kiss on the cheek. Joe and Natalie Biden join the more than 17,800 Delawareans who had voted either by mail or in person as of Friday afternoon, according to the Delaware Department of Elections. A department spokesperson said the official count would be updated Monday.

District of Columbia

President Joe Biden, with first lady Jill Biden, participates in a tree-planting ceremony in honor of groundskeeper Dale Haney on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 24.

Washington: The chief White House groundskeeper as of this month has spent 50 years serving the families – and many of their pets – who have called the mansion home. Dale Haney’s chief responsibility in his post that has spanned 10 presidencies is to care for the vast lawns, colorful flower gardens, hundreds of trees, thousands of shrubs and burgeoning vegetable garden on 18 acres of property surrounding the White House. He also picks out the official White House Christmas tree every year. To honor Haney, President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, surprised Haney last Monday by planting an elm tree on the south grounds. Biden said visitors in future years are “going to be looking at this tree and asking, ‘Who’s Dale?’ ” Haney, 70, joked that he “might still be here.” But Haney is perhaps better known to many at the White House, from staff to Secret Service officers, as the keeper of the president’s pets. “He’s like the whisperer,” said Anita McBride, who was a young aide in the correspondence office in Ronald Reagan’s administration when she first met Haney. These days, Haney is often seen walking Commander, Biden’s German shepherd. Haney started at the White House in 1972 and said he originally planned to work there for just two years.


Miami Beach: An evacuation order has abruptly forced out residents of a 14-story oceanfront building on the same avenue where a condominium collapse killed nearly 100 people last year. The city posted an unsafe structure notice Thursday evening at the Port Royale condominium, Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Berthier said in an email. A structural engineering report prompted the evacuation of the 164-unit structure, which is in the process of undergoing a required recertification. An engineer discovered that a main support beam identified for repair 10 months ago had shifted, and a crack in the beam had expanded, and other structural supports may need repair as well, the report said. One resident, renovation contractor Marash Markaj, who lived in the building for more than six years, said the damage extends beyond a single support beam. “I’ve seen the issues for many years,” Markaj told the Associated Press. He said he tried to report the issues – including cracks in a column and water standing in the garage area for weeks at a time – to the building management and to the city’s building department. “I was never able to get a response,” he said, adding that he was feeling “unsafe” living in the building and with the way the building’s maintenance was handled.


Atlanta: A man and his family “have faced threats of violence and live in fear” since the movie “2000 Mules” falsely accused him of ballot fraud during the 2020 election, according to a federal lawsuit. The widely debunked film includes surveillance video showing Mark Andrews, his face blurred, depositing five ballots in a drop box in downtown Lawrenceville, a suburb northeast of Atlanta. A voiceover by conservative pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza says: “What you are seeing is a crime. These are fraudulent votes.” In fact, a state investigation found, Andrews was dropping off ballots for himself, his wife and their three adult children, who all live at the same address. That is legal in Georgia, and a state investigator said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Andrews. D’Souza’s film uses research from the Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote and suggests that ballot “mules” aligned with Democrats were paid to illegally collect and deliver ballots in Georgia and four other closely watched states. An Associated Press analysis found that it is based on faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location data. State and federal officials have repeatedly confirmed that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election that could have changed the outcome of the presidential race.


Honolulu: A former U.S. defense contractor in Hawaii accused with his wife of living for decades under stolen identities of dead babies will get a new attorney, a federal judge ruled Thursday. According to prosecutors, Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwynn Darle Morrison are the real names of the couple who have been fraudulently living for decades under stolen identities, Bobby Fort and Julie Montague. Prosecutors say Primrose spent more than 20 years in the Coast Guard, where he obtained secret-level security clearance. The couple have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, false statement in a passport application and aggravated identity theft. Assistant Federal Defender Max Mizono filed a motion this month asking to withdraw as Primrose’s attorney, citing a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. During a telephone hearing Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Rom Trader granted the request after a private conversation with Mizono and Primrose. Prosecutors have suggested the case is about more than identity theft. A search of the couple’s home in Kapolei, a Honolulu suburb, turned up Polaroids of them wearing jackets that appear to be authentic Russian KGB uniforms, an invisible ink kit, documents with coded language and maps showing military bases, prosecutors said. Attorneys for the couple have said they are not Russian spies.


Boise: The state Supreme Court says it will not reconsider the clemency case of a terminally ill man who is facing execution for his role in the 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors near McCall. The high court made the decision Friday in Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr.’s case. The decision means the state remains free to seek a death warrant for Pizzuto. Once issued, the warrant would set his execution by lethal injection in the next 30 days. Deborah A. Czuba, the head of the Federal Defender Services of Idaho’s capital case unit, said in a statement that the Idaho Supreme Court decision was disappointing. “There is still time for Gov. Brad Little to accept the recommendation of his parole commissioners and let Mr. Pizzuto die a natural death in prison,” Czuba said. “If not, our hope is that the State will have enough grace to wait at least until after the Thanksgiving and Christmas season before making Department of Correction employees participate in a needless and traumatizing execution during the holidays.” Pizzuto has spent more than three decades on death row and was originally scheduled to be put to death in June 2021. He asked for clemency last year because he has terminal bladder cancer, heart disease, diabetes and decreased intellectual function.


Springfield: A mountain lion that roamed residential neighborhoods in the state capital was sedated Friday and taken to a sanctuary that houses big cats, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said. The young male cat was tranquilized by staff with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch and sent to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana, the state agency said. IDNR wildlife experts, Illinois Conservation Police, the USDA and the Springfield Police Department determined the animal had entered areas of the city where he would be a threat to people or property. The animal, which was fitted last year with a GPS collar by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, had wandered to Illinois from Nebraska. It arrived in Springfield on Wednesday, and IDNR warned residents not to disturb it while the agency tracked its movements. The DNR asked people to leave the mountain lion alone because the animals are a protected species in Illinois, and it’s illegal to kill them unless they pose an imminent threat to person or property. Its appearance in Springfield marks the second time in recent weeks a mountain lion has been detected in Illinois. The DNR said a mountain lion was struck and killed Oct. 16 by a vehicle along Interstate 88 in DeKalb County.


Crown Point: A fifth grade teacher in northwestern Indiana charged with felony intimidation after authorities say she told a student she had a “kill list” of students and staff has agreed to stay away from the school. Angelica Carrasquillo, 25, of Griffith, signed a no-contact order Friday without objection when she appeared wearing a green jail uniform in Lake Superior Court, The Times of Northwest Indiana reports. Judge Kathleen Lang affirmed Carrasquillo’s not guilty plea to one felony count of intimidation. Carrasquillo was being held with a bond set at $20,000 surety or $2,000 cash. Court documents say Carrasquillo communicated “a threat to commit murder” on Oct. 12. Once officials at the school where she was employed, St. Stanislaus in East Chicago, learned of the threat, they immediately confronted her and escorted her from the building, the Diocese of Gary said in a message to parents. When Carrasquillo was asked why she wanted to kill herself and others, she reportedly told school officials: “I’m having trouble with my mental health, and sometimes the kids do not listen in the classroom. I also have trauma caused when I went to high school.” But Carrasquillo also allegedly told school officials that “she was only joking about it all.”


Des Moines: A judge should allow a law passed in 2018 that bans most abortions to take effect, three years after the measure was ruled unconstitutional, lawyers for Gov. Kim Reynolds argued Friday. Chris Schandevel, a lawyer for the Republican governor, said Judge Celene Gogerty should set aside a 2019 permanent injunction that prevented Iowa from enforcing a law that would block abortions once cardiac activity can be detected. That is usually around six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. Schandevel said the injunction rests entirely on an Iowa Supreme Court 2018 decision that guaranteed the right to an abortion under the state constitution and cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 and 1973 that established abortion rights nationally. All three cases were overruled this year by more conservative courts, and given that, Reynolds’ lawyers argued the judge should reverse the injunction and let the 2018 law take effect. Rita Bettis Austen, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, countered that there is no precedent or legal support in Iowa for a judge to reverse a final judgment entered three years ago. The judge said she would issue a ruling soon.


Topeka: Voters are being asked to reduce the authority of the governor and other state officials and give legislators a bigger say in how the state regulates businesses, protects the environment and preserves residents’ health. A proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution on the Nov. 8 ballot would make it easier for the Republican-controlled Legislature to overturn regulations written by state agencies and boards – those under the control of the governor but also others in the executive branch of state government. At issue are rules as varied as which shots are required for children attending school and how often hotels must clean guest rooms. Business groups and advocates of smaller government view the measure as reining in unelected bureaucrats. But in the fall campaign’s final weeks, abortion rights advocates have begun warning that it is another attempted power grab by far-right legislators. The November vote comes three months after voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to eliminate state constitutional protections for abortion and give lawmakers authority to more tightly regulate or ban the procedure. Those who oppose the regulation amendment have repurposed the “vote no” yard signs from the abortion vote for their fall campaign.


Louisville: Jefferson County Public Schools has received the largest gift in its history, according to the district, with plans to invest the funds in some of the city’s most disadvantaged schools. A total of $20 million was put forward by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott for Louisville’s public school district, officials said at a press conference Thursday. The money will go toward “direct financial support for JCPS,” district officials said in a release. JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said the gift came following an interview with a consulting firm that represents several unnamed philanthropists. Three months later, he said, Scott’s team called to tell him about the planned donation to JCPS. “We also promised this community that we would fund the schools in an appropriate way so that the families in this community would have equity in selection,” Pollio said at the event at the Academy @ Shawnee in Louisville’s West End. “You can’t go to a high-poverty school across America and see something like this.” Pollio said the $20 million influx in cash will help address growing inequity in supplemental funding – cash that schools receive through parent-teacher associations, athletic events, booster clubs and alumni associations.


The 46th stamp in the Black Heritage series honors Ernest J. Gaines (1933-2019). Best known for such novels as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “A Lesson Before Dying,” Gaines drew from his childhood as the son of sharecroppers on a Louisiana plantation to explore the untold stories of rural African Americans, adding a vital voice to American literature. The stamp features an oil painting of Gaines, based on a 2001 photograph. Mike Ryan designed the stamp with art by Robert Peterson. Greg Breeding served as art director.

New Roads: Authorities are looking for a stolen sign marking a centuries-old tree that inspired author Ernest Gaines. The Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office said the historical marker identifying the “Miss Jane Pittman Oak” was stolen recently, and the parish government is offering a $500 reward for information leading to its recovery or the thief’s arrest, news outlets report. The tree itself, believed to be about 400 years old, served as partial inspiration for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which gained widespread notice for the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author. The book describes a first-person narrative of a fictional 110-year-old woman born into slavery. Historians have said Gaines regularly walked past the oak tree, which sits along Louisiana Highway 16 in Lakeland, a village in the parish, on his way to the grocery store. In 2008, state officials considered cutting down the oak because its low-hanging branches posed a potential threat to passing cars. But the state ultimately relented amid pushback from Gaines and other activists, opting instead to trim the branches. Tips leading to an arrest or recovery of the marker should be directed to the sheriff’s office at 225-694-3737. Gaines, who died in 2019 at age 86, will be depicted on a stamp next year, the U.S. Postal Service announced last week.


Hallowell: The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday approved a pair of energy projects that would generate enough wind power for up to 900,000 homes along with construction of a new transmission corridor to get the electricity to the regional power grid. The PUC was required by law to choose the projects to boost transmission capacity and renewable energy in Aroostook County. It chose LS Power Base for a 345-kilovolt transmission project and Longroad Energy’s King Pine for a wind generation project, but it didn’t rule on how how much of the cost would be borne by Maine ratepayers. Together, the net cost of the projects is $1.8 billion over a 30-year period, but they would benefit the state, officials said. An influx of energy into the regional grid would “place downward pressure on electricity prices, benefitting consumers in Maine and throughout New England,” said PUC Chair Philip L. Bartlett II. It’s a similar to the proposed 145-mile transmission line that would be a conduit for 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid, but it would serve a different purpose. State voters rebuked the New England Clean Energy Connect last November, and work was halted pending the outcome of a lawsuit.


Baltimore: Two legislators have called for an independent review of the state Department of Natural Resources’ handling of repeated complaints against the former manager at Gunpowder Falls State Park. A Baltimore County grand jury indicted former longtime manager Michael Browning last Monday on charges that include rape and assault. The Baltimore Sun reports that state Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Eric Luedtke called for the review in a letter to Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Maryland’s secretary of natural resources. “The behavior and lack of accountability described is inexcusable and requires prompt action by the Department to address the issues raised and ensure that a similar situation never happens again,” the letter says. Baltimore County Police arrested Browning, 71, in September and charged him with sexually assaulting a former park employee. According to charging documents, the woman told police she met Browning as a teenager while attending a youth club his wife ran before working with Browning at the park. Police wrote in charging documents that the two had a yearslong consensual relationship. The woman told police that she tried to end the relationship and that Browning raped her 10 to 15 times.


Boston: Police and school officials are trying to figure out how a 7-year-old child managed to bring a loaded gun to school. Police responded to UP Academy Holland in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood about 3:30 p.m. Thursday for a report of a student with a firearm, police said in a statement on the department’s website. Responding officers confiscated the weapon. No injuries were reported. “I’m speechless. I don’t have the words. This is truly devastating,” Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper said in a statement. “We have to ask ourselves how a very young student becomes in possession of and gains access to a firearm.” Mayor Michelle Wu pledged to hold the person who allowed the child access to the gun accountable. “No child should be near a weapon, much less directly endangered at such a young age,” she said. No additional information was released. “The Boston Police Department is focused on the proliferation of guns in our city and keeping access to them away from the youngest among us needs to be a priority for everyone,” Police Commissioner Michael Cox said. The school has about 770 students from kindergarten through fifth grade, according to its website. Police are still investigating.


Wyandotte:There’s nothing sweet about bringing home a cockroach, so trick-or-treating is off limits in a suburban Detroit neighborhood. Officials in Wyandotte said a cockroach infestation has been confirmed at a vacant home after a tip from a trash hauler. The pests have been moving to other homes. Sidewalks will be closed Monday night on a portion of 20th Street. City engineer Greg Mayhew said a Halloween ban will prevent “further roach migration.” Officials don’t want the bugs hitching a ride on costumes. The city is trying to exterminate the roaches, but “it will take some time,” Mayhew said. Walking the street could help kill the cockroaches, but their eggs still could spread and survive, City Council member Todd Hanna said.


Minneapolis: Election officials held a public demonstration of voting machines Friday as part of an effort to maintain public trust and transparency in election systems that have drawn coordinated attacks from ex-President Donald Trump and others. Minneapolis Director of Elections and Voter Services Katie Smith showed election judges from around the city how to test the voting equipment: Turn on the tabulator machine, feed the pre-marked set of test ballots into the machine, print off the results, and make sure the results exactly match the ballots. More than two dozen people tested the tabulator machines and assistive voting devices – which help voters zoom in, print and read their ballots with Braille, if needed – at the demonstration at the city’s election and voter services building. Smith said the public accuracy test, which is required under state law, is important because it lets members of the public see their votes are going to be correctly and accurately counted on election night. Around the country, some voters have expressed skepticism about election systems since Trump and others have falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud led to President Joe Biden being elected. After nearly two years, no evidence has shown that voting machines were manipulated to steal the 2020 election or that there was any widespread fraud.


Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, speaks before a screening of the movie “Till” on Thursday in Mound Bayou, Miss.

Mound Bayou: The tiny, all-Black town of Mound Bayou became a safe haven for Emmett Till’s mother as she traveled to Mississippi to testify in the murder trial of two white men who lynched her son in 1955. Hundreds of people – a good portion of Mound Bayou’s 1,500 residents – turned out Thursday evening to watch the movie “Till.” The feature film went into wide release across the U.S. over the weekend after being in limited release since Oct. 14. “This place, this city, is very sacred to the story of Emmett Till,” one of the filmmakers, Keith Beauchamp, told the mostly Black audience in the gymnasium/auditorium of Mound Bayou’s John F. Kennedy High School. The screening happened days after a bronze statue of Till was unveiled about 50 miles away in Greenwood. Beauchamp is one of the producers and writers of “Till,” which largely focuses on Mamie Till-Mobley’s reaction to the loss of her only child and her evolution into a civil rights leader. Mound Bayou was founded by formerly enslaved people in the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta in 1887 as a freestanding community where Black people could thrive amid the hostility of the Jim Crow era.


Cheryl Lane, right, leaves a Hazelwood School Board meeting with her two sons, Aaron, 9, left, and Andrew, 7, on Oct. 18 at the Hazelwood School District Learning Center in Florissant, Mo. “Virtual school is not the answer,” she said at the meeting.

Florissant: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed testing inside a school closed amid concerns of radioactive contamination, and sampling of soil outside the school has begun, Corps officials said Friday. A suburban St. Louis school board voted last week to close Jana Elementary School in Florissant after testing by a private firm found levels of radioactive isotope lead-210 that were 22 times the expected level on the kindergarten playground. It also found high levels of polonium, radium and other material inside the school, which sits along Coldwater Creek, contaminated decades ago with Manhattan Project atomic waste. The Corps said in a news release that radiation detection instruments were used to scan surfaces inside the school. Sampling of soil outside the school is expected to go on for another two weeks, the Corps said. The agency plans to sample at least 45 spots, with depths ranging from 15 to 28 feet below the surface. Preliminary test results are expected in November. The approximate 400 students at Jana Elementary are taking virtual classes for the next month, then will be reassigned to other schools. Coldwater Creek was contaminated in the 1940s and 1950s when waste from atomic bomb material manufactured in St. Louis got into the waterway near Lambert Airport, where the waste was stored. The result was an environmental nightmare that resulted in a Superfund declaration in 1989.


Helena: Two conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against the state and its wildlife management agency, alleging it illegally set hunting and trapping policies and quotas intended to reduce the gray wolf population by making it easier to kill the predators. WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote filed the lawsuit Thursday in District Court in Helena asking for the new laws and resulting increased quotas to be overturned. Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature in 2021 passed bills that allowed the state to reduce the wolf population, authorize additional hunting methods, allow extended hunting seasons, allow an individual to kill up to 20 wolves, and allow private parties to offer bounties for hunting or trapping wolves. The conservation groups allege management decisions are being made based on a wolf plan that was created in 2002 and was amended to use a new wolf population model without following state rulemaking procedures and without public participation. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks does not comment on pending litigation, spokesperson Greg Lemon said Friday. Montana officials authorized the killing of 450 wolves during the winter of 2021-22 but ended up shutting down hunting near Yellowstone National Park after 23 wolves from the park were killed, all but five in Montana.


Omaha: Dueling lawsuits have been dropped by a former candidate for governor and a fellow Republican state lawmaker who accused him of groping her at a political function several years ago. Charles W. Herbster, who lost his bid in May to become the GOP nominee for governor despite an early endorsement from ex-President Donald Trump, sued state Sen. Julie Slama for defamation after she told the Nebraska Examiner that, in 2019, Herbster reached under her skirt and groped her at the Douglas County Republican Party event when she was 22. Slama was one of eight women who accused Herbster of unwanted groping, but Slama was the only one to go on the record with her name. Herbster denied the allegations and painted them as a politically motivated attack. Slama quickly countersued, accusing Herbster of sexual battery. The competing lawsuits had largely stalled in the months since being filed, with both sides seeking delays. Online court records show that both sides on Wednesday submitted motions to dismiss their lawsuits with prejudice, meaning they can’t be refiled. On Thursday, the judge granted the motion. Neither the motion nor the judge’s order addressed why the parties sought to dismiss their respective lawsuits.


Las Vegas: A rural county roiled by voting machine conspiracy theories stopped its unprecedented effort Friday to hand-count ballots cast in advance of Election Day. But Nye County officials vowed to reshape their plan and seek another go-ahead from the Nevada Supreme Court, after justices ruled late Thursday that counting methods used last week violated rules they set to prevent the county from allowing early disclosure of election results. “Yesterday’s Supreme Court order requires us to make some changes to our hand count process,” Nye County officials said in a statement issued Friday that promised to “resume as soon as our plan is in compliance with the court’s order and approved by the secretary of state.” Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said they stood ready to challenge any effort to restart the hand tallies this week and don’t believe there’s any hand-counting scenario that would pass legal muster. The civil rights advocacy group accused Nye County officials of failing to prevent public release of early results before polls close to in-person voting Nov. 8. It argued that reading candidates’ names aloud from ballots within hearing distance of public observers violated the court rule.

New Hampshire

Concord: Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and Republican challenger Robert Burns frequently took jabs and interrupted one another over COVID-19 funding, drug addiction treatment and abortion rights during their first debate Friday for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District seat. Burns said many companies are suffering now because of reckless government spending. “My opponent here talks about the need for the federal government to help build businesses … I built my business without the help of the federal government,” said Burns, who runs a quality control and pharmaceutical safety company in Bedford. “That’s not true when you consider the Paycheck Protection loan that you took,” Kuster said. Burns responded: “That was 10 years later.” Kuster expressed her support for suboxone medication to treat opioid addiction, saying it is helping her own brother. Burns said statistics have shown that isn’t true and accused her campaign of being funded by its manufacturers. Burns, who says he is pro-life and supported the overturn of Roe v. Wade, was asked to clarify his proposal to form “panels” that would require a second and third opinion when a woman, in his words, is “being forced to have an abortion.” Burns said “probably misspoke a little bit” in his use of the word “panel” and said he was referring to the mental health of the mother.

New Jersey

Historic painting of George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth

Freehold Borough: A “significant” piece of historic artwork depicting George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth may be sold by the Monmouth County Historical Association for millions of dollars, drawing opposition from historians who claim the MCHA museum would lose a valuable piece of history. Titled “Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth,” the painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, a legendary German artist, dates to 1857. It recreates Washington’s involvement in the historic battle that occurred in June 1778. “I think it would be pathetically tragic to sell one of the key pieces of the association’s major collection,” said Joe Hammond, a former curator of the MCHA museum and one-time director of the association. “It is a regional collection of national significance, and the painting of Washington rallying the troops at Monmouth is one of the most significant.” But with a price tag that could reach tens of millions of dollars, MCHA officials contend it is worth investigating a potential sale. The new interest is likely the result of a recent multimillion-dollar sale of another Washington painting by Leutze. His famed “Washington Crossing the Delaware” piece fetched more than $45 million in May, according to Christie’s.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: The FBI confirmed Friday that it is investigating a report from a Santa Fe-based environmental advocacy group that it received mail containing antisemitic imagery and a suspicious powdery substance inside. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said in an email that the substance was tested and determined not to be harmful. Further details were not being released in order to protect the integrity the investigation, he said. Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster said the group received an envelope Wednesday in the mail that included a brown, powdery substance inside along with a torn-up political flier that the group distributed in support of a Democratic state House representative who is running for reelection. The mail included a reference to the Nazi Party, a swastika and other antisemitic symbols, Foster said. She said first responders including police evacuated the building, and an employee who opened the mail was released unharmed from a hospital after undergoing observation. Foster said she and her employees are working remotely as a precaution, while continuing their advocacy for environmental causes and endorsed political candidates.

New York

The Rev. Calvin Butts, left, makes a point in a show of support for the defendants of the Central Park trial outside the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in New York on July 24, 1990. Butts, who welcomed generations of worshippers as well as politicial leaders from across the nation and around the world at Harlem’s landmark Abyssinian Baptist Church, died Friday at age 73, the church announced.

New York: The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, who fought poverty and racism and skillfully navigated New York’s power structure as pastor of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, died Friday at age 73, the church announced. “The Butts Family and entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers for us in our bereavement,” the church said on its website. No cause of death was given. Butts began serving as a youth minister at Abyssinian in 1972 and was senior pastor there for more than 30 years. He also served as president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, on Long Island, from 1999 to 2020. His post at Abyssinian gave Butts one of the most prominent pulpits in the U.S. The church traces its roots to 1808 when a group of Black worshippers who refused to accept segregation at the First Baptist Church of New York City left to form their own congregation. The church’s current home on 138th Street in Harlem is a massive Tudor and Gothic revival structure dedicated in 1923 and designated a city landmark in 1993. Earlier pastors at Abyssinian included Adam Clayton Powell Sr. and his son Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the first African American to be elected to Congress from New York.

North Carolina

Raleigh: The two North Carolina Supreme Court seats up for election in November have taken on extra significance as the outcome could flip the court’s partisan makeup during a period of political polarization. Registered Democrats hold a 4-3 advantage on the court, but Republicans would retake the majority for the first time since 2016 should they win at least one race. The seats carry eight-year terms, so barring unplanned retirements, Republicans would be assured of keeping the upper hand for at least 41/years if successful. Outside groups are spending big to influence the races. In the two largest television markets alone, two super PACs have committed spending roughly $3 million on ads, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission. In keeping with nonjudicial elections this year, ads have focused on crime and abortion.

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state auditor said Thursday that an examination of North Dakota’s electoral systems conducted in response to voter concerns found that they are “incredibly secure.” Auditor Josh Gallion said he undertook the review in response to concerns nationally that false claims of election fraud and conspiracies are threats to democracy. “We looked at any potential weaknesses in the election system of our state that could be exploited by someone with nefarious intent,” Gallion said. “The determination after extensive review from our contractor was that our election systems are incredibly secure across our state.” The review found six vulnerabilities to the state’s election system but all were labeled “low risk,” Gallion said. The report identified the vulnerabilities as the the ability for a voter to cast multiple ballots, identity theft of deceased voters, stuffing or discarding valid absentee ballots, equipment tampering, and absentee ballot fraud. Gallion said his office received many inquiries from residents and others about North Dakota’s election security following the 2020 election, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. One inquiry came from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has echoed lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.


Visitors examine a series of Maurice Sendak illustrations at a new retrospective of the work of Sendak, “Wild Things Are Happening,” at the Columbus Museum of Art on Tuesday, in Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus: The first major retrospective of artist Maurice Sendak’s work since his 2012 death – and the largest and most complete to date – opened this month at the Columbus Museum of Art and runs through March 5, 2023. Most people today know Sendak as the creator of children’s book classics such as “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen.” A new exhibition of his work looks at that reputation and a less well-known side of his immense output: his work as a designer for opera, theater, film, and television. “We wanted people to understand that Maurice was actually a serious artist,” said Lynn Caponera, executive director of the Maurice Sendak Foundation in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Though most knew him as an illustrator and picture book artist, “they didn’t see beyond the fact that he did a lot more than that,” she said. “Wild Things are Happening” opened this month at the Columbus Museum of Art and runs through March 5, 2023. It’s the first major retrospective of Sendak’s work since his 2012 death and the largest and most complete to date. The exhibit takes its name from a 1990s advertising campaign Sendak did for Bell Atlantic that featured Wild Things characters promoting “a fast, dependable Internet service.”


Broken Arrow: The deaths of eight family members – including six children found in a burning Oklahoma home – are being investigated as a murder-suicide, authorities said Friday. Police are trying to determine whether both adults were involved in the killings. The children, who ranged in age from 1 to 13, were the victims, Broken Arrow Police Chief Brandon Berryhill said during a news conference. He did not provide their identities, ages or explain their relationships to one another except to say they were family members believed to be living in the home. Police said both adults who live in the home were considered “primary suspects” because they were found dead in the front of the home while the children were all found in a bedroom, where the fire was contained. A police spokesman declined to say whether authorities believe the two adults were both responsible for the killings or whether it could be just one of them. “It’s because investigators are still trying to piece together what happened with eight people dead,” police spokesman Ethan Hutchins said in an email to the Associated Press. Hutchins also said police would not be able to identify the dead adults until the medical examiner’s office has completed its work.


A demonstrator is pepper-sprayed shortly before being arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest July 29, 2020, in Portland, Ore.

Salem: U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in the Trump administration compiled extensive intelligence dossiers on people who were arrested, even for minor offenses, during Black Lives Matter protests in Oregon. Initial drafts of the dossiers even included friends of the subjects as well as their interests, but those were later removed and replaced with a note that they would be made available upon request, according to an internal review by the Department of Homeland Security. The dossiers, known by agents as baseball cards, were previously normally compiled on non-U.S. citizens or only on Americans with “a demonstrated terrorism nexus,” according to the 76-page report. It was previously released last year but contains new revelations based on extensive redactions that were removed by the Biden administration. Ben Wizner, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s free speech, privacy and technology project, said the report indicates leaders of the Department of Homeland Security wanted to inflate the risk caused by protesters in Portland. The city became an epicenter of sometimes violent demonstrations in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. But many protesters, including women belonging to a “Wall of Moms” ad hoc group and military veterans, were peaceful.


Pittsburgh: Authorities say they have recovered a gun believed to have been thrown off a bridge by a suspect after a shooting that injured six people, one critically, outside a church where a funeral was being held. Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said a river rescue team working off the McKees Rocks Bridge on Sunday morning was able to locate a firearm matching the description of the firearm used in Friday’s shooting outside Destiny of Faith Church. Officials said the weapon found had a bullet in the chamber and had been reported stolen in Shaler Township. Nineteen-year-old Shawn Davis of McKees Rocks and a 16-year-old Pittsburgh youth are both charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and weapons counts in the noontime gunfire Friday outside the church where a funeral was being held for a man killed in a shooting earlier this month. The service was being livestreamed, and the video showed several people screaming and ducking for cover. It wasn’t clear if any shots went into the church. One person was taken to a hospital in critical condition while four other shooting victims were listed as stable. A sixth person injured trying to escape was also treated.

Rhode Island

Providence: Backed by Brown University, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School has opened a hands-on, interactive classroom meant to help students explore science, technology, engineering, art and math in a fresh new space. Three groups of fourth and fifth graders were assigned a challenge Friday to figure out a way to raise a tiny flag using three machines and six chain reactions – without electricity. After a couple of false starts, fifth grader Noelle Ingle’s team propelled a tiny ball down a ramp, which struck a series of matchbox cars, which raised a card-size version of the Brown University flag. The room erupted in cheers. The Rube Goldberg machine was the first experiment in Gregorian’s new STEAM lab. Brown University spent approximately $200,000 renovating the dingy third grade classroom, installing new windows, floors and a sink and buying new furniture, including ricochet stools that allow students to wiggle while seated. The university also purchased whiteboards, a smart television and a microscope with up to 1,200x magnification. The shelves are already filled with robot and model car kits, magnetic play tiles and Legos. Brown has had a decades­long partnership with the elementary school, named after Vartan Gregorian, Brown’s larger-than-life president, who served from 1989 to 1997 and died April 15.

South Carolina

Greenville: Officials are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would restrict children from accessing public library books and electronic materials that are “promoting sexuality.” Local news outlets report the proposed Greenville County Council measure would direct trustees of the Greenville County Library System to order books and electronic materials removed from the county’s 12 libraries. The resolution also orders the library trustees to report “how such books ever found their way into the children’s sections of our public libraries” and to say how they will prevent them returning. As is true nationwide, controversies over materials dealing with LGBTQ and racial themes have been roiling South Carolina schools and public libraries for a year, particularly in the heavily Republican Upstate region. A large number of opponents spoke against restricting books during a Greenville County Council meeting in September, saying it targets books with LGBTQ themes. “These materials are not innately sexualized, they are not innately about sex, they are just about who we are and those should continue to exist,” Tyler Prescott of the Upstate LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce told councilors then. Republican Councilor Joe Dill, who is sponsoring the resolution, said in September that the county needs to also consider other people who are offended.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Two critically endangered red wolves have arrived at the Great Plains Zoo from facilities in Texas and Washington. There are fewer than two dozen red wolves living in the wild, the zoo said in a press release, making them the most endangered canid species in the world. The wolves’ placement at zoo is part of a species survival plan, which aims to breed pairs with the greatest possible genetic diversity. “With only around 20 individuals remaining in the wild, the survival of the red wolf species is contingent the concerted help of accredited zoos and conservation partners with species survival breeding and reintroduction plans,” CEO Becky Dewitz said in a statement. “Weare grateful and dedicated to helping save the red wolf from extinction.” The male and female wolves are still getting used to each other and their new habitat, so the path by their enclosure will be blocked for ZooBoo, which takes place this Friday through Sunday. The zoo asks patrons respect the barricades as the wolves adjust.


Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Commission is taking applications for awards to honor people or groups that work to study and preserve the state’s heritage. The commission said Thursday that its Certificates of Merit are presented each May, during National Preservation Month. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31. Patrick McIntyre, State Historic Preservation Officer and executive director of the commission, said the awards program “highlights people and organizations for the work they do in the areas of publication, commemoration, and education regarding our state’s unique history and heritage.” “For 47 years our awards program has offered an opportunity to give thanks and recognition to those working to champion and revitalize Tennessee’s historic places,” McIntyre said. Applications can be found on the commission’s website.


Austin: The state police chief said Thursday that his department “did not fail” Uvalde during the hesitant law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary School shooting, as a Republican congressman joined angry parents of some of the 19 children killed in the May attack in calling for him to resign. Col. Steve McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, acknowledged mistakes by officers while several Uvalde families confronted him in Austin over multiple outrages: why police waited more than 70 minutes before entering the fourth-grade classroom and killing the gunman, false and shifting accounts given by authorities, and records that remain withheld more than five months later. But McCraw defended his agency, and during a meeting of the state’s Public Safety Commission, made the case that failures uncovered to date did not warrant his removal while saying he was not shirking from accountability. Uvalde families bristled and asked how DPS could not have failed, given that troopers were among the first on the scene. “I can tell you this right now, DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community,” McCraw said. “Plain and simple.” Significantly, Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales said for the first time after the meeting that McCraw should also lose his job, becoming the first major figure in the GOP to call for a change at the top of Texas’ state police force.


South Jordan: U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens and Democratic challenger Darlene McDonald agreed on none of the issues addressed Friday in their only debate before the midterm elections, with each largely echoing their party’s talking points on inflation, abortion and infrastructure spending. In an untelevised debate in the basement of a suburban real estate office with an audience of only campaign staff and half a dozen reporters, the Utah Republican blamed Democrats and President Joe Biden for fentanyl being imported across the U.S.-Mexico border, racial division and inflation. Owens accused Democrats of pushing critical race theory – an academic framework that connects the country’s history, including the legacy of slavery, to contemporary racism – and said that it’s destroying the country’s social fabric. “One thing that the Biden administration has accomplished is that they’ve given us a common purpose again,” Owens, one of two Black Republicans in the U.S. House, added. “We now share in what’s called misery, as a people.” McDonald, who is also Black, countered that Owens was spreading falsehoods to drum up fear – about both the nature of protests against police brutality and the idea that critical race theory was being taught in K-12 schools.


Rutland: A man charged with the 1989 stabbing deaths of his in-laws in the town of Danby after modern DNA techniques linked him to the crime pleaded not guilty Friday during a court hearing. The arraignment of Michael Louise in Vermont Superior Court in Rutland came two days after he was returned to Vermont from New York to answer charges in the deaths of George Peacock, 76, and Catherine Peacock, 73. He had been scheduled for arraignment Thursday but the hearing was delayed 24 hours. Louise entered the pleas and then was ordered held without bail, said Vermont State Police spokesperson Adam Silverman, who monitored the hearing remotely. Louise, 79, who was married to one of the Peacocks’ daughters, was identified as a suspect about two weeks later after the couple was found dead in their Danby home in September 1989. Investigators at the time developed circumstantial evidence tying Louise to the killings, but there was not enough to charge him, police said in an affidavit filed in the case. Louise told conflicting stories about whether he had traveled to Vermont from his home in Liverpool, New York, on Sept. 13, 1989, the day the Peacocks were believed to have been killed. Their bodies were discovered Sept. 17 after neighbors went to check on the couple.


A Coast Guard Station Chincoteague 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew safely transfers 12 people ashore at the station Friday in Chincoteague, Va.

Norfolk: The U.S. Coast Guard, a crew of scientists and others launched an air and sea mission to rescue 13 people, including a child, from a fishing vessel just moments before it sank in darkness early Friday in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, authorities said. The 115-foot Tremont fishing vessel collided with the 1000-foot Panamanian-flagged container vessel MSC Rita, about 60 miles from shore, the Coast Guard said in a statement. The Tremont sent out a mayday call that it was taking on water and sinking with 13 people aboard that was received by watchstanders with Coast Guard Sector Virginia, officials said. That call was also heard by Atlantis, a 274-foot ship operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at about 1:45 a.m., WHOI said in an email to The Associated Press. The captain of the Atlantis contacted the Coast Guard and motored 8 miles west to the fishing vessel. The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from its air station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the Coast Guard said. It also dispatched a motor lifeboat crew from its station in Chincoteague, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch to assist.


A barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer in 2010, just outside the city limits of Everett, Wash., in Snohomish County.

Everett: The city’s dress code ordinance saying bikini baristas must cover their bodies at work has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. The decision in a partial summary judgment last week came after a lengthy legal battle between bikini baristas and the city of Everett over the rights of workers to wear what they want, the Everett Herald reports. Everett is about 30 miles north of Seattle. U.S. District Court in Seattle found Everett’s dress code ordinance violated the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. The Court found that the ordinance was, at least in part, shaped by a gender-based discriminatory purpose, according to a 19-page ruling signed by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez. It is difficult to imagine, the court wrote, how the ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice because it prohibits clothing “typically worn by women rather than men,” including midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis. Bikini baristas were “clearly” a target of the ordinance, the court also ruled, adding that the profession is comprised of a workforce that is almost entirely women.

West Virginia

Surgeon Michael Gentile carves a pumpkin as he competes in the Huntington Children’s Museum’s second annual Pumpkin Carving Contest on Tuesday at The Market in downtown Huntington, W.Va.

Huntington: Local chefs and surgeons put their carving skills to the test for the Huntington Children’s Museum Pumpkin Carving Contest at The Market’s outdoor patio in downtown Huntington. Jessica McCormick, of Huntington, brought her two children, 10-year-old Iris and 4-year-old Oscar, to the event on Tuesday, which also featured the Marshall Nutrition Program, a dance floor with a fog machine, and other contests and events for kids. “They loved this event last year, and they love checking out the carved pumpkins, too,” said McCormick, who is the vice president of the museum’s board of directors. “We have been waiting for a children’s museum in Huntington since Iris was a baby. I hope everyone will get involved and donate to such a great cause.” Drew Hetzer, of Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar and The Peddler, was one of the local dining legends competing in the contest that also included Jonathan Patterson of Le Bistro and Jordan Hagy of La Famiglia. “I’m sticking with a pizza theme, but with a Halloween twist on it,” Hetzer said. Participating surgeons included doctors Ashleigh Clickett, Courtney Crain, Michael Gentile, Farzad Amiri and Ben Moosavi. “I will attempt carving a breastfeeding mother with a baby,” said Clickett, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Valley Health. “Cutting a pumpkin is a lot different than human skin, so it will be much different. I just want to have fun with it and help a great cause at the same time.” Votes for the best pumpkin can be made with donations to Huntington Children’s Museum online at


Madison: An appeals court is refusing to block a lower court’s ruling prohibiting voters who already submitted an absentee ballot from voiding it and voting again, a rarely used practice known as ballot spoiling. The 2nd District Court of Appeals decided Thursday against hearing an appeal of a Waukesha County circuit court judge’s ruling this month in favor of a conservative group founded by prominent Republicans. That ruling required the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission to rescind its guidance that allowed the spoiling of ballots that had already been cast. Voters who obtained an absentee ballot, but have not yet voted and want to obtain a new one, can still do that. The elections commission held an emergency meeting Friday, less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, and unanimously voted to rescind the guidance issued in August detailing how an already cast ballot could be spoiled. Very few voters have actually spoiled their absentee ballots after voting in recent elections, data provided by the elections commission to the Associated Press shows. In the August primary, just 3,519 people cast a new ballot after spoiling their original one, less than 0.3% of all votes cast, the data shows.


Cheyenne: Three wolves shot and killed in the state are drawing attention across the border. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials believe the animals may have belonged to their state’s closely watched North Park wolf pack. The North Park pack, which often crosses into Wyoming where hunting wolves is legal, gained notoriety last year after birthing Colorado’s first known litter of pups in 80 years. Travis Duncan, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said in an email that the agency cannot yet confirm whether the slain wolves were in the North Park pack but will continue to monitor the animals “if and when they are next seen in the area.” Duncan added that at least two wolves were seen Friday in northern Colorado. In Colorado, killing a wolf can bring a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. But once all four paws are across the border into Wyoming, wolves are in the state’s “predator zone” where anyone can legally hunt the animals without a license. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The difference in state laws could impede Colorado’s planned reintroduction of wolves that was narrowly approved by voters in a controversial 2019 ballot initiative. The introduction is planned for 2023 on the sparsely populated Western Slope.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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