Mobile: A man convicted of murder more than a decade ago was captured Monday a day after escaping from a minimum-security corrections center near Mobile, prison officials said. Jeffery Strugg, 31, was discovered missing from community-based facility in Prichard on Sunday, according to a notice from the Alabama Department of Corrections. The agency didn’t release any information about how Strugg got out. He surrendered without any violence in Mobile County, corrections officials said. Strugg was 18 when he was sentenced to 29 years in prison after being convicted in the 2007 killing of Dewone Smiley, 15, in Selma, court records show. Strugg was accused of entering an apartment and shooting Smiley, a student at Selma High School, to death in front of two witnesses. Strugg is eligible for parole consideration Dec. 1, prison records show.
Juneau: The state House on Saturday voted against accepting a spending package passed by the Senate that included payments of about $5,500 to residents. The vote to concur with the Senate package failed, with 18 members in favor of accepting the Senate plan and 22 against. The vote sets the stage for a conference committee, with the regular legislative session set to end by Wednesday. In a conference committee, House and Senate negotiators are tasked with hashing out differences between the state budgets that passed each chamber. The House, in its version of the budget, included a dividend of about $1,250 plus a $1,300 “energy relief” check. The Senate plan called for a dividend of about $4,200 from Alaska’s oil wealth fund, an amount in line with a long-standing formula last used in 2015. The Senate plan also included a $1,300 energy check. Some lawmakers have argued the state is benefitting from high oil prices and can afford to help Alaskans who are struggling. But critics of the higher payments to residents say oil prices are volatile, and the oil price in the state revenue forecast can’t be assured.
Tucson: A federal appeals court has upheld a judge’s ruling overturning a federal agency’s approval of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s plan for a new open-pit copper mine in southeastern Arizona. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a permit for the Rosemont Mine project in a valley on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson went beyond what is allowed under a federal mining law. The appellate court cited the planned use of Coronado National Forest land for long-term storage of waste rock, not actual mining, and the lack of valuable minerals on that property. Hudbay Minerals officials said in a statement Thursday that they were reviewing the ruling and would continue to pursue alternative plans for mining part of the Rosemont copper deposit on nearby private lands. A coalition of environmental and tribal groups challenging the mining hailed the appellate court’s decision, the latest in a series of legal obstacles to the project. “This momentous decision makes it clear that Hudbay’s plan to destroy the beautiful Rosemont Valley is not only a terrible idea, it’s illegal,” said Allison Melton, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. Hudbay has another mine project in the works on the western flank of the Santa Ritas.
Fayetteville: A raccoon ran loose in the stands during Arkansas baseball’s Friday matchup with Vanderbilt, but a fan came to the rescue. Fayetteville native Grant Harmon grabbed the raccoon with his bare hands and held it up to cheers from the crowd at Baum-Walker Stadium as members of the Commodores’ bullpen looked on from left field. The incident was dubbed by fans on social media as the “rally raccoon,” as the Hogs came back to tie the game after being down 5-0 and then 6-5. Despite that, the rallies ultimately fell short as Vanderbilt won 9-6 in 10 innings. After grabbing the raccoon, Harmon continued to carry it out of the stadium. “The opportunity just came about, and I guess I just took action and grabbed it,” he said. “That was a first. I have no prior experience grabbing raccoons.”
Modesto: The state will acquire a sprawling former farm property in the San Joaquin Valley and create a new state park for the first time in 13 years. Dos Rios Ranch, where the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers meet southwest of Modesto, will become California’s 280th state park and the first new one since Fort Ord Dunes near Monterey in 2009, the Modesto Bee reports. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday earmarked $5 million for the new park as part of his revised budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1. The nearly 4-square-mile expanse featuring willows and valley oaks will be donated by River Partners, a conservation group that’s spent the past decade restoring the site. State Parks Director Armando Quintero said Friday that the property will serve “a park-poor region” – the San Joaquin Valley – and help address inequities in access to state recreation sites. “Everyone deserves to have close access to vibrant parks, and this opportunity is an exciting one,” Quintero said. Dos Rios could get trails, picnic areas, restrooms and other basics within five years, state parks officials said. Campgrounds could follow within another five years, the Bee reports.
Colorado Springs: The city is enacting a fire ban after a series of blazes have spread quickly in hot and dry conditions, including a fatal one caused by smoking. Under the ban taking effect Monday, smoking and grilling will be banned in parks in Colorado’s second-largest city. People grilling at home will only be able to use gas or liquid fuel, not charcoal or wood, and chain saws must have spark arresters. Welding or torching work may still be allowed but only with a permit, the Colorado Springs Fire Department said. A woman died in a fire Thursday at a mobile home park that was blamed on “the improper disposal of smoking materials,” city spokesperson Natashia Kerr said. Eight homes were destroyed. Under the ban, smoking materials must be disposed of in a non-combustible container with a lid. Meanwhile, a wildfire in the foothills southwest of the city that also started Thursday has burned 2.4 square miles. The fire near the former mining town of Cripple Creek was 27% contained Monday.
Bridgeport: A former assistant police chief’s lawsuit claiming he was defrauded out of the police chief’s job can go forward, a state appeals court has ruled. James Nardozzi’s lawsuit stemmed from the hiring scandal that landed the city’s police chief and personnel director in prison last year. Nardozzi claimed former Chief Armando Perez and former personnel director David Dunn conspired with Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim to fix the selection process so Perez would be selected as chief, the Connecticut Post reports. Prosecutors said Perez, 65, received confidential information about the police chief’s examination that was stolen by Dunn, including the questions for an oral examination and the scoring guide for written essays. Perez, who was the acting chief at the time, also admitted that he had two officers complete his essays, passed the work off as his own and lied to federal authorities in an effort to cover up his actions. Last April, Perez was sentenced to a year in prison, and Dunn received a four-month term. Both have since been released, according to the Courant. The appeals court ruled Friday that Nardozzi’s suit can proceed even though the city had paid him to settle a previous lawsuit after he was fired by Ganim in 2016. The case could go to trial later this year.
Dover: State lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that would put state law enforcement officials in charge of background checks for gun purchases. A bill filed Friday would resurrect Delaware’s Firearm Transaction Approval Program, which was eliminated more than a decade ago when lawmakers voted to rely on the federal government’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. That vote came amid concerns then that Delaware’s background check system was not providing the federal NICS with information about mentally ill individuals prohibited from buying or possessing firearms. The bill authorized state agencies to provide such information to NICS, created a federally mandated program allowing individuals previously deemed mentally ill to reestablish eligibility for gun ownership, and abolished the state’s existing background check system. Lawmakers now want to return responsibility for firearm transactions background checks in Delaware to the State Bureau of Identification. The SBI would be the point of contact between gun dealers and the federal databases checked by the FBI. The SBI would thus become responsible for determining whether a person is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm and would be able to search other databases other than NICS in making that determination.
District of Columbia
Washington: In 100 years, if nothing is done, the historic Tidal Basin may be underwater, WUSA-TV reports. In 500, the Jefferson Memorial will be accessible only by boat. A combination of rising waters and a sinking human-made Tidal Basin puts the entire area – cherry blossoms, memorials, walking paths – at risk. But it’s not inevitable. The Trust for the National Mall and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have teamed up to create the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, an initiative to plan out what the reservoir could become in the next century. It was once just a part of the Potomac River, but after the great flood of 1881, city planners got to work dredging up the river and Washington Channel to build the Tidal Basin. Teresa Durkin, executive vice president for the Trust for the National Mall, said the gates that engineers installed to control the water flow are no longer doing their job. “The gates have actually silted shut. So the water keeps coming through, but with it, it’s bringing all this silt and debris. So over time, it literally cannot open and close anymore. It doesn’t function as it was designed to,” Durkin said. “A lot of that sediment, because it’s not flushing out of the out gates, is also settling in the Tidal Basin itself. So it has likely raised the water.”
Vero Beach: A food truck exploded during a seafood festival Saturday, sending one person to the hospital with severe burns, according to authorities. The Vero Beach police said state and local fire officials are investigating the cause of the explosion. The department posted photos of the scene on Facebook that showed the sides and roof of the truck blown off the vehicle. One person was flown to a hospital burn unit in Orlando. There were no other injuries, and the festival continued as authorities secured the scene of the explosion, police said.
Atlanta: A group of voters who challenged U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s eligibility to run for reelection said Monday that they have filed an appeal of the Georgia secretary of state’s decision that she can appear on the ballot. The five voters from Greene’s district in March filed a complaint with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger alleging that the Republican congresswoman played a significant role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that disrupted Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. They argued that puts her in violation of a seldom-invoked part of the 14th Amendment having to do with insurrection and makes her ineligible to run for reelection. Georgia Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot last month held a daylong hearing that included arguments from lawyers for the voters and for Greene, as well as extensive questioning of Greene herself. He then sent his decision to Raffensperger on May 6. Beaudrot found that the voters hadn’t produced sufficient evidence to back their claims. Raffensperger affirmed that decision, writing that whether Greene’s political statements and actions disqualify her from office “is rightfully a question for the voters of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.” Under state law, the voters are allowed to appeal that decision in Fulton County Superior Court.
Honolulu: Hawaiian Airlines is exploring electric aircraft technology with an eye toward using the vehicles for interisland travel, Hawaii News Now reports. A Boston-based company called REGENT is designing “seagliders” that would each carry up to 100 people. Hawaiian hasn’t committed to purchasing any of the aircraft but is exploring the possibility. A news release from REGENT said Hawaiian agreed to strategically invest to support the initial design of the company’s next-generation seaglider. Hawaiian is the first airline to partner with the company, which hopes to have its Monarch seagliders in the air by 2028. “We look forward to working with REGENT to explore the technology and infrastructure needed to fulfill our vision for convenient, comfortable and environmentally sustainable interisland transportation,” said Avi Mannis, chief marketing and communications officer at Hawaiian Airlines. REGENT’s seagliders fly through the air close to the water’s surface. The company said the aircraft will service routes up to 180 miles with existing battery technology and routes up to 500 miles with next-generation batteries. The company said the seagliders will move at the speed of an airplane but have the operating cost of boats and will use existing dock infrastructure.
Boise: State officials have agreed to a $119 million settlement with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors over their role in the opioid addiction crisis. Republican Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said in an announcement Friday that it’s the second-largest consumer settlement in state history, trailing only the 1998 national tobacco settlement. An Ada County judge on Wednesday approved the settlement that includes all 44 Idaho counties, 24 cities and the state’s seven health districts. The money will address damage wrought by opioids, which the federal government declared a public health emergency in 2017. Johnson & Johnson and the three distributors agreed to a national $26 billion settlement in February. “Idaho has made significant strides in recent years in combatting the opioid crisis, and the culmination of our legal action against opioid manufacturers – led by Attorney General Wasden and his team – now offers additional resources,” Little said in a statement. Wasden is continuing legal action against other opioid makers as well as the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma. “This settlement holds some of those most responsible for the opioid crisis accountable and provides significant funding for treatment, recovery and prevention in Idaho,” he said.
Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot tightened a citywide curfew for young people Monday, a day after she restricted access by unaccompanied minors to downtown’s Millennium Park following the weekend shooting death of a 16-year-old boy near “The Bean” sculpture at the park. The citywide weekend curfew for minors now will begin each night at 10 p.m., instead of the 11 p.m. curfew in place since the 1990s, Lightfoot said. At Millennium Park, which is a popular stop for tourists and Chicago residents, minors will not be allowed in the park after 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays without an adult. “We need to make sure they are safe and importantly that our young people understand and respect basic community norms, respect for themselves, respect for each other, and we must ensure that every one of our residents and visitors – no matter who they are or where they come from or how old they are – are able to safely enjoy our public spaces,” the mayor said at a news conference. Lightfoot said she hoped and expected that people would abide by the restrictions and that it would not lead to widespread arrests. She said officials “don’t want to arrest children,” but those who break the law will be.
Noblesville: A tiny community garden that provided 1,500 pounds of free food over five years to people in need was bulldozed by city crews after a nuisance call about overgrown grass. City officials said the lease with the nonprofit that managed the garden expired more than a year ago, and there was no sign that the land had been maintained since. The overgrown six parcels next to Southside Park posed a safety risk, officials said. Garden caretakers said they were in talks with the city about entering a new contract and weren’t given a warning the plot would be flattened and its furniture removed. Hidden underneath the pollinators and overgrowth were viable shrubs and plants, said Renee Rule, coordinator of the garden since its founding. The plot is messy when it’s not growing season but was a little more scraggly this year because bad weather had delayed volunteers who were to prepare it for planting, Rule said. “I wish they would have given us a call, and we could have saved some of the plants,” Rule said. The garden has provided free tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, onions and lettuces to neighborhood families and served as an instructional farm for college students and Girl Scouts alike. Families rented plots so they could grow vegetables to eat. Schoolchildren were given pumpkins in the fall. A beekeeper gave demonstrations at a beehive.
Des Moines: School districts across the state are up against a federal deadline that will end a pandemic-era free meals program for students next month. While many school officials are waiting to see if federal or state lawmakers will extend the program, at least one district, Des Moines Public Schools, is working to continue offering most of its students free meals next school year. Students have faced repeated upheavals since March 2020, when schools across the country closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to help districts feed students during the health crisis – whether they were at school or home – the U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily relaxed rules that tied who received free lunch to family income and neighborhood poverty levels. As the June 30 deadline draws near, school district officials and school nutrition advocates are asking state and federal lawmakers to intervene by either extending the relaxed rules or offering free meals to all students permanently. If no legislation is passed, students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals will still receive those services. Educators and advocates stress that studies show students do better academically when they are not hungry. School meals reduce both hunger and anxiety about it.
Topeka: A federal judge is blocking a public school’s policy preventing teachers from outing transgender students to their parents after a teacher raised religious objections. Fort Riley Middle School math teacher Pamela Ricard sued USD 475 Geary County Schools over LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies that conflicted with her Christian beliefs. District Judge Holly Teeter issued a preliminary injunction Monday blocking the school from disciplining Ricard if she reveals preferred names and pronouns of her transgender students when communicating with their parents. “The Court relies on Plaintiff’s statements that she does not intend to communicate with a parent for the sole purpose of disclosing a student’s preferred name and pronouns,” Teeter wrote. Ricard has two transgender students in her class, the judge wrote, neither of whom has authorized the district to disclose a preferred name and pronouns to parents. While Ricard uses their preferred names in class and avoids pronouns, she has emailed parents using a student’s legal name and biological pronouns. “Plaintiff believes that addressing students one way at school and a different way when speaking to their parents is dishonest,” the opinion said. “Being dishonest violates her sincere religious beliefs.” Teeter was appointed by then-President Donald Trump.
Richmond: A judge entered a not guilty plea Monday for a man accused of fatally shooting the daughter of a former state lawmaker during a home invasion. Shannon Gilday, 23, appeared in Madison Circuit Court for a continued arraignment on charges of murder, attempted murder, assault, burglary and criminal mischief, news outlets report. His attorney tried to enter a plea of guilty but mentally ill on his behalf last week, but the prosecution argued against it, and the judge continued the hearing. Meanwhile, prosecutors filed a notice of aggravating circumstances seeking enhanced penalties upon a conviction, which stopped defense attorney Tom Griffiths from trying to enter a plea of guilty but mentally ill, news outlets report. Gilday allegedly broke into a multimillion-dollar Madison County home owned by former lawmaker C. Wesley Morgan and shot Jordan Morgan while she was asleep, according to court records and statements from Morgan. Gilday also exchanged shots with Morgan during the Feb. 22 break-in. State police investigators said Gilday told them he was determined to get access to a bunker in the home. He was arrested in Madison County about a week after the shooting.
Baton Rouge: Child drownings are on the rise in Louisiana, according to the state Department of Health, which says inability to swim, lack of supervision, and unfenced pools, spas and water bodies are top causes of drownings among babies and children under 15 years old. “As temperatures heat up and families return to water activities, it is important for parents and families to stay aware of the precautions they can take to prevent child drownings,” the department said in a news release. The agency said the number of drownings among children had fallen steadily for years, from 26 in 2015 and 2016 to 15 in 2019. But the total rose 60% in 2020, to 24. And preliminary data indicates that last year’s total was 25, it said. The department’s most recent Louisiana Child Death Review Report, covering 2017 through 2019, found that an average of 17 children drowned each year. That made drowning the No. 3 cause of injury-related death in children up through age 14, behind vehicle crashes and homicide. It found that 96% of them could not swim, 72% were unsupervised, and 54% died in water that hadn’t been fenced off. It found that 60% drowned in a pool, hot tub or spa. Looking at all drownings including adults, Louisiana had the nation’s third-highest rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Portland: A proposed order from the state’s Board of Environmental Protection would let stand a permit issued for a $1 billion electric transmission corridor to serve as a conduit for Canadian hydropower. The draft order was written by environmental agency staff ahead of a hearing this week that was postponed because of COVID-19 illnesses. The board was supposed to meet Tuesday to decide whether to hold a public hearing or to begin deliberations the following day. The permit was suspended by Maine Environmental Commissioner Melanie Loyzim after voters rebuked the project in a statewide referendum. Because the permit was not permanently revoked, the Board of Environmental Protection was required to issue a final decision on consolidated appeals. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, meanwhile, is weighing a lawsuit aimed at overturning the referendum on constitutional grounds, as well questions about the legality of a state lease for a small portion of land. Funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, the New England Clean Energy Connect would supply up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower – enough electricity for 1 million homes – to the regional power grid. Supporters say bold projects are necessary to battle climate change. Critics say the benefits are overstated, and it would destroy woodlands.
Annapolis: U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen says he has suffered a minor stroke and is being treated at George Washington University Hospital. The Maryland Democrat said he has been told there are no long-term effects or damage. In a statement Sunday night, Van Hollen said he has been advised by doctors to remain under observation at the Washington, D.C., hospital for a few days out of an abundance of caution. Van Hollen, 63, was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving seven terms in the U.S. House. The senator said he experienced lightheadedness and acute neck pain while delivering a speech in western Maryland. On the advice of a physician, he sought medical attention upon his return home. An angiogram indicated a minor stroke in the form of a small venous tear at the back of his head, Van Hollen said. “I look forward to returning to work in the Senate later this week and thank the medical team for their excellent care,” he said.
Boston: Chelsea Millsap, 32, who can trace her ancestry to the Pilgrims, is the first woman named sexton in the nearly 300-year history of Boston’s Old North Church. The critical job involves caring for and maintaining the parish buildings and equipment, including an 18th-century clock, the 75-piece chandeliers and the crypt where more than 1,100 people have been laid to rest. One of her first tasks will be managing a major renovation and restoration of the crypt. The church, still home to an active Episcopal congregation, is famous as the place where in 1775, two lanterns in the steeple signaled British soldiers were heading to Concord and Lexington, sending Paul Revere on the ride that sparked the American Revolution. One of the people who hung the lanterns was Robert Newman, the sexton at that time. “What an incredible opportunity to be able to sit in the very same pew as Robert Newman and in a world that is so divided to work in a place that welcomes all people from Bostonians to world dignitaries, like the Queen,” Millsap, a Detroit native and former firefighter with experience in fire prevention, security technology and project management, said in a statement. “I could have been the one to hang the lanterns 247 years ago. It is such an honor to show women that they too can hold these sorts of jobs.” Millsap is a descendant of teenage Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton, buried at nearby King’s Chapel.
Detroit: A man walking on a footbridge to a Detroit Tigers game said he fell 15 feet to the ground when part of the concrete collapsed. Ely Hydes said the incident occurred May 9, but the bridge still was open until the Detroit News reached out to the state Transportation Department on Sunday. The Spruce Street pedestrian bridge is above M-10, also known as the Lodge Freeway. Hydes said he was walking to Comerica Park with a friend when “the bridge just collapsed under my feet.” “I remember thinking, ‘I hope I’m not over the freeway.’ I landed about 6 feet from the traffic. … After I hit the ground, I got the wind knocked out of me pretty good,” Hydes, 36, told the newspaper. He informed police, then resumed his walk to the Tigers game, a 2-0 loss to Oakland. Hydes went to a hospital a few days later. “I’m a giant walking bruise right now,” he said. The Transportation Department said it wasn’t aware of the hole in the bridge until notified by the newspaper. “The Spruce pedestrian bridge was built in 1953, and based on its age and condition, it is on a yearly detailed bridge inspection that is due this month,” spokeswoman Diane Cross said.
Lutsen: Communities in northeastern Minnesota are preparing to deal with more flooding and are calling for volunteers to help with sandbagging. Near Voyageurs National Park, most docks are underwater at area lakes, and some 200 homes and resorts are at risk. Kabetogama Township Supervisor John Stegmeir said his area is bracing for a record-breaking flood. Stegmeir said more volunteers are needed, especially since the average age of volunteers sandbagging right now is 65. The volunteers, along with some staff from Voyageurs National Park, have been working since last Tuesday, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. “I think we’ve filled 8,000 bags this week, which isn’t big when you talk about the flooding on the Red River – they’re talking millions of bags – No. 1, we couldn’t do that, and the people who have been coming out to bag are older, you know,” he said. Volunteers are asked to check in at the town hall and to bring a shovel if possible. A flood warning is in effect for many communities in the Rainy River Basin of far northern Minnesota. In Cook County, the owner of Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior is hoping the iconic bridges on the property can be saved. Recent high water levels sent debris rushing down the Poplar River, damaging the bridges.
Jackson: The state has revised its landlord-tenant law to give renters time to gather their belongings from a home before being forced to leave, after a federal judge ruled that the previous law was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills wrote in his Nov. 30 order that the old law was “unpredictable and absurd,” saying it went further than eviction laws in any other state. He wrote that it violated an occupant’s right to due process. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the new law April 21, and it took effect immediately. It passed with broad bipartisan support. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the new law gives a tenant seven days to gather belongings and vacate a home after an eviction notice. An exception is made for emergencies. If the occupant does not leave during the initial order, a judge could issue a separate one authorizing law enforcement to remove a tenant. That would give the person another 72 hours to gather their belongings. The previous law allowed landlords to immediately seize and dispose of a delinquent occupant’s personal property. The impetus for his order was a lawsuit by Samantha Conner, a Columbus woman who sued her landlord after he took nearly everything she owned when she was evicted in 2019.
Springfield: The state has retained a dubious distinction for the 10th time, topping the Humane Society’s list of the worst puppy mill problem. In their annual list of worst dog breeders in the country, the advocacy group listed Missouri as having 26 of the most abusive puppy mills. Since the “Horrible Hundred” list was first published 10 years ago, Missouri has topped the list each year. This year the Show-Me State garnered 26 spots on the list, compared to just 17 in Iowa, 12 in New York, and seven each in Kansas and Wisconsin. That Missouri has so many puppy mills is no surprise, according to Humane Society Stop Puppy Mills campaign senior director John Goodwin. “Missouri has always been at the heart of the puppy mill industry since the beginning,” Goodwin said. “The post-World War II era was a time period where there was a lot of consolidation in agriculture, and a lot of small farms closed. This industry was seen as a solution in Midwestern states, and Missouri became the epicenter of large-scale puppy mills.” That evolution was aided by state regulations allowing the mills to flourish, Goodwin said. That would have changed in a 2010 proposition approved by voters that would have required large-scale breeders to provide “sufficient food, clean water, housing and space” to the dogs under their care, along with “necessary veterinary care; regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.” After the initiative was passed, the Legislature changed the language of the regulations.
Crow Agency: Little Big Horn College, a tribal college on the Crow Reservation, in partnership with the Crow Language Consortium, will host the 10th annual Crow Summer Institute on June 6-24. The three-week program offers free Crow language and culture classes. Participants must be at least 18 years old, and registration is now open, according to a news release. The institute offers two options, one for beginners and one for intermediate learners. Learners will have access to resources developed by Crow elders, speakers and knowledge keepers, including textbooks, flashcards, dictionaries and multimedia apps. The Crow Summer Institute is offering $100 gas cards to some early registrants and Crow dictionaries for those who complete the program. Participants may also earn college credit through Little Big Horn College. Ishkoochìia Chiiakaamnáah (Jacob Brien), a Crow language learner who attended past Crow Summer Institutes, said the program helped him “realize different connections and patterns within the language.” “It really helped me understand Crow jokes and, by extension, Crow culture, which of course usually doesn’t translate, as many subtleties of the language don’t work in English,” he said in a statement. For more information, visit summer.crowlanguage.org.
Lincoln: The state has agreed to pay $479,000 to the family of a “talkative” Scottsbluff man who was strangled to death in 2017 by a fellow inmate who didn’t want a cellmate. The lawsuit, filed by Terry Berry Jr.’s family against prison officials they argued were responsible for the 22-year-old’s death because they put him in the same cell as Patrick Schroeder, was dismissed last week after both sides agreed to the settlement. Berry was nearing parole on a sentence for forgery and assault when he was placed with Schroeder, who was serving a life sentence for killing a 75-year-old man and dumping his body in a well. The Lincoln Journal Star reports Schroeder later pleaded guilty to killing Berry and was sentenced to death. Berry’s family argued in the lawsuit that prison officials should have known there would be problems if they placed the two men together, and a caseworker at the prison even warned co-workers involved in the decision that Schroeder didn’t want a cellmate and wouldn’t likely tolerate Berry well because he was known to be “very talkative and bothersome.” Back in 2019, a federal judge dismissed the head of the state Department of Correctional Services and the prison’s warden as defendants, but the case had been allowed to move forward against several prison employees involved.
Las Vegas: A proposed ballot initiative seeks to amend the state constitution to establish open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections, though it isn’t without its critics. The Nevada Voters First political action committee is spearheading the initiative and must collect 140,777 signatures from registered Nevada voters by June 29 to qualify the measure for the 2022 general election ballot. Approval in November would call on the Legislature to institute the changes to the Nevada Constitution by July 1, 2025. In ranked-choice balloting, voters are directed to mark candidates in order of preference and to mark as many choices as they want. A voter may also choose only one candidate. The proposal would establish open primary elections, including all candidates regardless of party affiliation, squaring off in ranked-choice fashion. The top five finishers would advance to the general election, which would also be conducted using ranked-choice voting. About 30% of registered voters in Nevada list themselves as nonpartisan, and about 40% aren’t registered as Republican or Democrat, said Sondra Cosgrove, a representative with Nevada Voters First and a past president of the League of Women Voters of Nevada. “That’s a lot of people who are being shut out of important races,” she said.
Concord: A former Trump administration official running for Congress did not violate state law by voting twice during the 2016 primary election season, the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said Thursday without taking a position on whether federal law was broken. The Associated Press reported in April that Matt Mowers cast ballots in both the Feb. 9, 2016, New Hampshire presidential primary and the New Jersey primary four months later. Legal experts said Mowers could have a violated federal law that prohibits “voting more than once” in “any general, special, or primary election.” That includes casting a ballot in separate jurisdictions “for an election to the same candidacy or office.” Though the article did not allege violation of state law, the attorney general’s office investigated based on the report and complaints from voters. After reviewing Mowers’ voting history, rental and property records, driver’s license documents and other material, it concluded he did not violate New Hampshire’s law against double voting. Mowers is a leading candidate for the GOP nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District, though New Hampshire has yet to complete its redistricting process and finalize the congressional map. He was the nominee in 2020 but lost to Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas.
Toms River: The Ocean County Board of Commissioners plans this week to wade into the contentious debate over the state’s new health and sex education curriculum. While the five-member, all-Republican board has no legal authority to determine what is taught in schools, its bully pulpit is seen as influential in a county that is a bastion of conservatism in an otherwise progressive state. Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who is also a Republican National Committee member, circulated a draft resolution among her colleagues last Wednesday to establish a “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” If approved as expected, the resolution would put the full weight of the county government behind a grassroots effort to establish such a bill of rights by providing political, administrative and legal support. The text of the draft resolution authorizes and directs the county commission director, the county administrator and county general counsel to organize parents, community leaders and unspecified professionals to develop the framework for such a document. The framework for such a declaration would then be used to marshal local school districts and county schools into adopting their own bills of rights.
Albuquerque: The city’s Asian American community is testing a new way to bolster security for Asian-owned businesses in the wake of two deadly shootings. KOAT-TV reports an Albuquerque startup is trying out an online service that connects armed security guards with Asian-owned businesses. Businesses would report suspicious activity to toServo. The service would utilize GPS-enabled mobile technology to put them in touch with a private security team, and the security on call would respond within minutes. It is part of an initiative established by the Asian Business Collaborative. The nonprofit started a Good Neighbor Program to check up on shops and restaurants. For now, four businesses will be chosen for the service. But there are hopes to expand its use by the end of the year. Collaborative organizers say the city’s Asian community has been on edge since shootings at two Asian-owned spas. In January, the female owner of one spa was shot and killed during an attempted robbery. Two men have been charged in her killing. Less than a month later, another woman of Asian descent was killed inside another massage business during a robbery. The suspect was killed in a police pursuit 10 days later.
New York: City health officials issued an advisory Monday urging New Yorkers to wear masks in all indoor public settings as the city approaches “high risk” COVID-19 alert status. Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said everyone “regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection” should wear face coverings at all times in settings such as grocery stores, offices and building lobbies. People at high risk of severe illness from the virus, such as those over 65 years old, should avoid crowded settings and nonessential gatherings, he said. Vasan said he was issuing the guidance as the city approaches the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” level of COVID-19 alert, representing high community spread and increasing pressure on the health care system. New York City has been averaging about 3,600 reported new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past week – a number that is likely an undercount because it doesn’t include positive tests done at home. The daily case counts have been rising slowly since March but have leveled off somewhat recently. The CDC risk level for Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island is currently “medium,” while the Bronx is still “low.” But much of the surrounding metropolitan area has already moved into the CDC’s “high risk” category.
Raleigh: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the shooting death of an endangered red wolf in North Carolina. The wolf was found in a muddy field in Tyrrell County on April 15, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The News & Observer reports it had been shot in the spine and collapsed in the mud – some of which was found in its lungs. Killing a red wolf is illegal, except under special circumstances. Red wolves once ranged across the Southeast, but after decades of habitat loss and killing by humans, they were nearly extinct by 1980. The Fish and Wildlife Service gathered up the remaining wild wolves and began a captive breeding program. The first captive wolves were reintroduced to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina in 1987. By 2006, as many as 120 red wolves were thought to be living in the wild. Since then, wolf populations have declined again. Last year, the Biden administration abandoned a proposal made under President Donald Trump to scale back the areas where red wolves are protected and allow the killing of wolves found outside federal land.
Bismarck: Hoping to head off an explosion of electronic pull tab machines at gas stations and liquor, grocery and convenience stores, state regulators want to change the definition of a bar to make clear where the wildly popular Las Vegas-style games that mimic slot machines will be allowed. The state attorney general’s office, which oversees gambling in North Dakota, has identified a handful of gas stations and convenience stores that have begun selling and serving booze and are now “masquerading” as bars so that they can put the machines in their businesses, Attorney General Drew Wrigley said. Wrigley and Deb McDaniel, North Dakota’s top gambling regulator, said the idea for the rule change is to clarify and preserve what they believe the intent of the Legislature was when it defined a bar as a “retail alcoholic beverage establishment where alcoholic beverages are dispensed and consumed.” The amended language specifies that a bar does not include gas stations or liquor, grocery and convenience stores. A bar in a hotel, bowling alley or restaurant could still have the machines, under the new definition. The North Dakota Gaming Commission scheduled a Thursday meeting at the state Capitol to discuss the proposed changes and to take public comments.
Columbus: The state took the formal step of signaling interest in expanding Amtrak passenger rail in Ohio, though it is far from saying yes to the idea. Gov. Mike DeWine has asked the Ohio Rail Development Commission to work with Amtrak to study potential new routes, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for the governor’s office. The move was first reported by Cleveland.com. “It’s not to the point where we’re ready to go jump up and ‘yippee,’ but it’s significant, and we’re optimistic,” said Stu Nicholson with All Aboard Ohio, an advocacy group for rail. Amtrak wants to build a line connecting Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati. The company agreed to cover the cost of construction, track upgrades and operating costs for at least five years, then split the estimated $17 million to $20 million annual operating costs with the state. The roughly $100 million cost to build the line would come from a massive infrastructure package Congress passed into law. The approach could better entice Ohio to expand rail given much of the upfront cost will be covered, advocates said. Nicholson said recent guidance allows the state to use other sources outside its general revenue, such as private grants, to go toward its share.
Oklahoma City: New laws signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt will increase funding for local enforcement of the medical marijuana industry and target illicit sales of cannabis. Each of the bills moved through the Legislature last week, and as a result county sheriffs are now able to receive grant funding to dedicate a full-time deputy to assist with compliance visits conducted by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. The intent of the law is to allow enforcement officers to help the medical marijuana authority in situations where licensed cannabis businesses are not willing to allow inspections of their property. According to the bill’s authors, compliance inspectors were denied access 181 times between April 2021 and February of this year. “This bill is not meant to threaten anyone. We just want to make sure our compliance inspectors can safely do their jobs,” said state Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, the House author. “This is a very important piece of legislation that will help rein in illegal marijuana operations and give Oklahomans the safe, fair, free market for medical marijuana that they voted for in 2018.” Logistics of the bill create a revolving fund, provided by the medical marijuana authority, that sets aside an annual $5 million for county sheriffs to dedicate an officer for one year to the medical marijuana authority.
Portland: Criminal defendants who have gone without legal representation for long periods of time amid a critical shortage of public defense attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday that alleges the state violated their constitutional right to legal counsel and a speedy trial. The complaint, which seeks class-action status, was filed as state lawmakers and the Oregon Office of Public Defense Services struggle to address the huge shortage of public defenders statewide. The crisis has led to the dismissal of dozens of cases and left an estimated 500 defendants statewide – including several dozen in custody on serious felonies – without legal representation. Crime victims are also affected because cases are taking longer to reach resolution, a delay that experts say extends their trauma, weakens evidence and erodes confidence in the justice system, especially among low-income and minority groups. “There is a public defense crisis raging across this country,” said Jason D. Williamson, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law, who helped prepare the filing. “But Oregon is among only a handful of states that is now entirely depriving people of their constitutional right to counsel on a daily basis, leaving countless indigent defendants without access to an attorney for months at a time.”
Carlisle: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz is stepping up his criticism of far-right candidates gaining traction ahead of Tuesday’s primary election. After spending much of the campaign steering clear of fellow Republican Senate contender Kathy Barnette, Oz on Saturday said she was out of step with the GOP and would be unable to win the general election in November. In an interview, he took issue with a 2015 tweet from Barnette in which she wrote that “Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam.” Oz, who would be the nation’s first Muslim senator, described the comments as “disqualifying.” “It’s reprehensible that she would tweet out something that is defamatory to an entire religion,” Oz told the Associated Press. “This state was based on religious freedom. I’m proud as a Pennsylvanian to uphold those founding beliefs that every faith has its merits.” The Barnette campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier in the week, Barnette told NBC News that she did not make the statement, which was still live on her Twitter feed Monday.
Providence: A congressional candidate recently arrested on a menacing charge in another state has dropped out of the race. Michael Neary said in a statement Friday that he was seeking medical treatment for non-epileptic seizures following his arrest in Ohio in March. He said the decision followed “careful consultation and prayer.” Neary, 28, was among a large field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District following incumbent Democrat Jim Langevin’s announcement in January that he’s retiring. Neary has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of menacing by stalking March 23, as well as drug counts after marijuana and drug paraphernalia were allegedly found in his car. He’s previously said he’d remain in the race despite the charges. The Columbus, Ohio, resident, who grew up in Rhode Island, was stopped by police after another driver reported having been followed from Columbus to Troy, more than 60 miles away. Police said the driver reported that Neary’s car mimicked their every move, matching speed and lane changes and even stopping at a rest area after they did. Authorities said Neary told them he had recently returned from Rhode Island, was very stressed and had been focusing on the vehicle’s Ohio registration.
Greenville: Grace Church has purchased a dormitory building from Greenville Technical College to convert into affordable housing as part of a special program to address the local housing crisis. The church will serve as the landlord for the property, and rent will be adjusted to fit families’ income. Rent prices will range from $450 for a single room to $1,000 for a three-bedroom unit. The goal, according to Grace Church’s care and recovery ministry director LeeAnne Cavin, is that the average family will pay in the $900 range for a unit. “We do have a crisis of housing,” Cavin said. “Our whole community is really starting to desire collaboration.” The units are expected to open for rent the first week of June, and the church already has almost 40 families ready to move in. The program will accept emergency housing vouchers through the Greenville Housing Authority but not Section 8 vouchers or extra subsidy from the federal government that goes directly toward rent. To sign a lease in one of the units, families agree to be a part of a Grace Church housing program that offers medical coverage, dental care, a savings matching program, mental health support, car maintenance, financial education, cooking classes, self-defense classes, and job and interview preparation.
Pierre: The ongoing drought in South Dakota has been hard on the state’s wildlife. The U.S. Forest Service says the grouse population in the Fort Pierre National Grassland has declined by 15% in 2022, largely because of the dry conditions. The total grouse population has averaged about 300 since the mid-1980s. Over the past twenty years, both greater prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse populations have primarily remained stable or have grown. “The thing that I think was really damaging to us last year was we had record-high and record-dry conditions in early June, right when those birds started incubation or, for the earlier semester, to hatch. And, boy, that’s just so tough on a chick to thermoregulate and be able to find sufficient moisture,” District Ranger Dan Svingen said. Greater prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse both nest on the ground and require tall grass to hide their nests, the Capital Journal reports. Because they start laying eggs as early as April, before sufficient grass growth, they’re dependent on dead grass from the previous year as cover. However, the drought prevented extensive grass growth in 2021, leaving them more exposed to predators in 2022. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a little more than 76% of South Dakota is experiencing some kind of drought.
Knoxville: In its quest to redefine tourism at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has inked a deal to bring an international entertainment company to the United States for the first time. Tribal Council and international theme park company Puy du Fou have signed a letter of intent to develop a new “spectacular immersive show” as part of a 200-acre development located at Exit 407 south of Interstate 40 on the way to the Smokies. The Tribal Council approved $75 million May 4 for phase one development of “The 407: Gateway to Adventure.” Its leaders are seeking world-class attractions to appeal to the record-breaking crowds flocking to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The 407 partners have estimated the development could attract 6.7 million visitors in the first year after phase one is complete. That’s expected sometime in 2024. “We are excited to take the first steps towards developing this world-class attraction that will help support our nation economically while creating a new platform to share dimensions of Cherokee history many have never heard,” said Chairman of the Tribal Council Richard French. Puy du Fou is known worldwide for its immersive experiences inspired by history.
Houston: Two people were killed and three more taken to a hospital with injuries after a shooting Sunday at a bustling flea market, authorities said. The shooting at the open-air market arose from an “altercation” that involved at least two guns and all five of the people, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. He said no “innocent bystanders” were injured. Investigators believe one of the people hospitalized was among those who opened fire, and two more suspected shooters were detained at the scene, a sheriff’s deputy told KTRK-TV. Thousands of people were shopping at the market 14 miles north of Houston’s downtown when the shooting began around 1 p.m. Sunday, Gonzalez said on Twitter. The sheriff said multiple shots were fired, and deputies recovered two pistols from the scene. Authorities did not immediately provide further information about what led to the shooting but said all the people involved were men in there 20s who appeared to know each other.
Salt Lake City: A copper mining company will begin manufacturing a rare mineral used in solar panels that used to be discarded along with the other mine tailings. Rio Tinto officials and Gov. Spencer Cox unveiled the plan Wednesday at the Kennecott refinery west of Salt Lake City where the tellurium will be produced, FOX-13 news reports. The company says it is one of two in the U.S. to produce tellurium, which is listed as a “critical mineral” by the U.S. government. Most of the tellurium produced comes from China and other countries. Rio Tinto is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on ideas to produce more tellurium. The company said it hopes to produce 20 tons of the tellurium each year. “If we can produce it here, we are all going to be better off,” said Cox, a Republican. “We desperately need more of it.”
Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation into law Monday that creates an advisory committee to make recommendations on how to spend the state’s share of settlement money with drug manufacturers and distribution companies over the toll of prescription opioids. The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Vermont jumped 33% in 2021 to a record 210 fatalities, the Vermont Health Department reported last month. The committee will be made up of the state’s health commissioner; a member each from the state Senate and House; health care providers; two people who lived through the experience of opioid use disorder; an assistant judge; and representatives from municipalities. Each year, the committee will make recommendations to the Vermont Department of Health and legislative committees for expenditures from a special opioid abatement fund. The health commissioner is expected to call the first meeting of the panel to occur on or before June 30.
Norfolk: A professor whose research on pedophilia created a stir at Old Dominion University has landed a new job with Johns Hopkins University’s Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Allyn Walker stepped down from ODU in November after using the phrase “minor-attracted person” instead of “pedophile” in research, leading to an outcry on campus and social media, as well as threats of violence. The Virginian-Pilot reports the Moore Center announced last week that Walker, who uses the pronoun they, would be joining the center as a postdoctoral fellow. The center said in a series of tweets that it was excited to welcome Walker and that they would be working on research and new projects to develop a “comprehensive public health approach to addressing child sexual abuse and effective prevention programs.” On its website, the center says it works “to change the way the world thinks about child sexual abuse, from inevitable to preventable.” In the series of tweets, the center referred to Walker as “a leader in the field of perpetration prevention research.” Walker was an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice before more than 15,500 people signed an online petition calling for their removal from ODU in the fall. That came after a controversial interview about “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” a book focused on people who do not act on their sexual attraction to children and strategies to prevent them from acting on the attraction.
Seattle: Amtrak will postpone restoring its Cascades passenger-train service between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., until possibly December because of a lack of personnel. The service gap occurred despite the Biden administration’s much-hyped $66 billion allotted in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to catch up on maintenance and spread Amtrak’s national railway service to new cities, The Seattle Times reports. Janet Matkin, rail spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said transportation officials in the state hoped the trains would roll again by summer or even late spring. Amtrak doesn’t have enough conductors, mechanics and onboard service staff yet to operate the trains, though new classes of conductors are in training, according to a letter to Washington and Oregon rail directors from Ray Lang, an Amtrak vice president. Pre-pandemic, about 159,000 people per year rode between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., or 290,000 when including stations between the cities, Matkin said. Passenger fares traditionally cover about two-thirds of operation costs, while states cover the rest.
Welch: Gov. Jim Justice visited the site of a planned $147 million highway project that will connect Welch to the Coalfields Expressway. The 5-mile stretch of highway is expected to be completed in 2026. “This announcement today means we are one step closer to bringing this area of West Virginia to the world once and for all,” Justice said in a media release. “We have waited and waited in southern West Virginia for way too long.” Justice announced Friday that Bizzack Construction of Lexington, Kentucky, won the bid to build the new highway. The governor’s office said plans are in the works to build a 5-mile stretch of the Coalfields Expressway from Mullens to Twin Falls State Park and a 3-mile link from Twin Falls toward Pineville. The four-lane Coalfields Expressway that runs from Raleigh County to Wyoming County opened in 2020.
Sparta: The popular Elroy-Sparta State Trail officially reopened over the weekend following several years of flood-related repairs. Summer flood damage in 2018 closed the 32-mile-long trail which had about 60,000 visitors a year. The state Department of Natural Resources said the western Wisconsin trail needed two complete bridge replacements and landslide repairs, among other work. According to the DNR, $2.3 million needed for repairs came from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the state. State Sen. Howard Marklein, of Spring Green, and state Rep. Tony Kurtz, of Wonewoc, spearheaded efforts in the Legislature to secure funds for the trail’s repairs, Wisconsin Public Radio reports. “The easy part was the funding,” the DNR’s Missy VanLanduyt said. “The more difficult part was just the sheer amount of infrastructure that needed to be replaced, and designing all of that, and then going through the bidding process and then finally a very long construction period as well.” While repair work is largely complete, a 1-mile section of the trail was closed as of Friday because of bridge safety concerns. VanLanduyt said it’s set to reopen after Memorial Day weekend, with a permanent bridge replacement coming in late 2023 or early 2024.
Cheyenne: U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis apologized Monday after getting booed and heckled for remarks she made on sexual identity during a University of Wyoming graduation speech. A first-term Republican from deep-red Wyoming, Lummis said in Saturday’s speech in Laramie that human rights are derived from God but that government seeks to redefine many of them. “Even fundamental, scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days,” Lummis said. She paused and smiled while many in the crowd responded with boos and heckling. “And I challenge those of you,” she said, without completing that thought, saying: “I’m not making a comment on the fact that there are people who transition between sexes.” Lummis is a former congresswoman, state treasurer and University of Wyoming graduate who’s been prominent in Wyoming politics for decades. Until now, at least, she has been less outspoken than many Republicans who’ve made a major issue of gender and sex identity. The stir happened in a community known for the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998, a watershed event in LGBTQ activism. A college town of about 32,000 people, Laramie leans left compared to the vast majority of Wyoming.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tidal Basin flooding, ‘rally raccoon’: News from around our 50 states