Tuscaloosa: Hundreds of Scouts from around west Alabama camped, played games, practiced skills and enjoyed the outdoor life at the Moundville Archaeological Park. The celebration, which marked the Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th annual encampment, was held over the weekend at the park, one of the nation’s premier Native American Heritage sites. “We cover 12 counties. This anniversary is a testimony to Scouting’s relevance in today’s society. Go back a hundred years. It was relevant back then to young people, and it still is today,” said Bill Gosselin, CEO of the Black Warrior Council. Gosselin said he is excited about the future of Scouting. Membership in the various Scout organizations in west Alabama grew last year, and there were more than 700 people participating in the encampment. The kids participating Friday ranged from 5-year-olds in the Lion Cubs program to 20-year-old Venture Scouts. The 100th encampment included model rocket launch demonstrations, archery, sling shots, tomahawk throwing, camp cooking, ham radio demonstrations and the ability to visit the museum at the Moundville Archaeological Park.
Kipnuk: Students are learning remotely this week after an as-yet unexplained fight between a school district and tribal council led to a principal being banished from the village, Alaska Public Media reports. The Kipnuk Traditional Council last month barred students from attending in-person classes, pointing to safety concerns, and the Lower Kuskokwim School District said Monday that Chief Paul Memorial School would close. The council also formally banished Principal LaDorothy Lightfoot last week, saying she should be flown out by noon Friday. The causes of the developments remain unclear, according to Alaska Public Media.
Phoenix: A federal judge on Tuesday ordered armed members of a group monitoring ballot drop boxes in the state to stay at least 250 feet away from the locations following complaints that people wearing masks and carrying guns were intimidating voters. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said members of Clean Elections USA, its leader and anyone working with them are also barred from filming or following anyone within 75 feet of a ballot drop box or the entrance to a building that houses one. They also cannot speak to or yell at individuals within that perimeter unless spoken to first. The temporary restraining order was requested by the League of Women Voters of Arizona after Clean Elections USA encouraged people to watch 24-hour ballot boxes in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county. “It is paramount that we balance the rights of the defendant to engage in their constitutionally protected First Amendment activity with the interest in the plaintiffs and in voters casting a vote free of harassment and intimidation,” Liburdi said. A second set of defendants in rural Yavapai County – groups known as the Lions of Liberty and the Yavapai County Preparedness team, who are associated with the far-right anti-government group Oath Keepers – were dismissed from the case Monday after they pledged to stand down their operations.
Horseshoe Bend: A man who was reported missing while hiking in the Ozark Mountains has been found alive after a four-day search, officials said. Clinton Preston Smith, 67, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was found “in good spirits” about noon Tuesday, according to a statement from the Buffalo National River, which is part of the National Park Service. He had been reported missing Oct. 27 after he failed to return home from a hike on a trail near the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas, officials said. Crews found Smith near the river in the area of Horseshoe Bend, which is about 105 miles north of Little Rock. Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said Smith was sore, hungry and dehydrated but did not appear to have any serious injuries, Springfield, Missouri, TV station KY3 reports.
Santa Ana: A health emergency has been declared in Orange County due to rapidly spreading viral infections that are sending more children to the hospital, health officials said Tuesday. The county health officer issued the declaration Monday due to record numbers of pediatric hospitalizations and daily emergency room visits, the county’s health care agency said in a press release. The move allows the Southern California county of 3 million people to access state and federal resources and enlist assistance from non-pediatric hospitals to help care for sick children, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s health officer. “Our concern here is that it is reaching even record levels,” Chinsio-Kwong told reporters. “We want to make sure we are prepared to care for any sick child in the county who falls ill and requires hospital care.” The county has seen a growing number of children with respiratory syncytial virus, which can cause severe breathing problems for babies, while flu cases are also starting to rise. The situation is similar in much of the country, where doctors are bracing for the possibility that RSV, flu and COVID-19 could combine to stress hospitals. Last week, neighboring San Diego County’s public health agency sounded a similar alarm.
Boulder: Seeking a second term as governor, Democrat Jared Polis is referring to himself as a “happy dad” as he fends off attacks from Republican Heidi Ganahl, who is trying to channel the angst of parents worried about underperforming schools, drugs and post-pandemic crime with the campaign slogan “#MadMom.” “We have skyrocketing crime, out-of-control inflation, a huge fentanyl problem that’s killing our kids, and our kids can’t read, write or do math at grade level,” Ganahl said in a recent debate. All are nationwide issues. Polis, a wealthy tech entrepreneur and former U.S. representative, counters with a rosy picture of the state under his watch and insists Colorado’s best days are ahead as it emerges from the pandemic with a strong economy and healthy state revenues bolstered by federal relief spending. “My opponent identified herself as a mad mom. I identify myself as a happy dad, of two great kids, 11 and 8, raising my kids in the best state of all the states,” Polis responded at the debate. Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent, mother of four and successful entrepreneur, faces stiff odds but is undaunted in a state that has become increasingly Democrat-controlled in the past decade, said Dick Wadhams, a former state Republican Party chair. “Heidi is very competitive, but it’s a high bar,” Wadhams said.
Killingly: A scathing report from the state Department of Education found the Killingly school board engaged in apparent “deliberate indifference” when it came to addressing student mental health issues. “And it is that systemic indifference that distinguishes this from other school boards confronting these issues,” according to the report from Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker which accused the Killingly board of “repeated failure and refusal to implement reasonable interventions to address students’ clear mental health, socio-emotional and behavioral needs.” The 38-page report, which includes information obtained by sworn affidavits of district officials and others, is the culmination of a months-long state investigation into a citizens’ complaint filed in the wake of the board’s rejection of a grant-funded school-based health center in March and its alleged failure to offer substantial alternative behavioral health options. The report – and its recommendation that the Connecticut Board of Education order an inquiry into the matter – was released Monday, just days before the state board was scheduled to discuss the topic. State education investigators upheld the complainants’ allegation that the Killingly board “failed or is unable to make reasonable provision to implement the education interests” of the state.
Dover: While overall college enrollment is dropping nationwide, Delaware State University has set an enrollment record, topping 6,000 students for the first time in its 131-year history. Enrollment of 6,268 for the fall 2022 semester is a jump of nearly 11% from last year’s previous record of 5,649 and an increase of 33% since 2017, said DSU director of news services Carlos Holmes. This semester’s first-year class totals more than 1,400, also a record. Meanwhile, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that undergraduate enrollment in the U.S. fell by 4.7%, with 662,000 fewer students in the spring 2022 semester than in 2021. Graduate and professional student enrollment dropped by 1% from last year. Delaware State University president Tony Allen said one of the goals in the DSU strategic plan is to reach 10,000 students by the end of the decade. He credits the success to a university-wide commitment to access and opportunity, including a stronger emphasis on online and graduate programs, enhancements to the state-funded Inspire Scholarship Program and expansion of its Early College School. Online enrollment soared by 56.8% compared to last year, while graduate enrollment rose by 5.7%.
District of Columbia
Washington: Protesters opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning abortion rights briefly interrupted arguments at the court Wednesday and urged women to vote in next week’s elections. It was the first courtroom disruption since the justices’ decision in June that stripped away women’s constitutional protections for abortion after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. Three people stood up in the first few minutes of Wednesday’s session to denounce the abortion ruling. “Our right to choose will not be taken away,” one protester said. “Women, vote for our right to choose.” The justices did not appear to react to the disruption. The protesters did not resist when police led them away. The protesters, identified as Emily Archer Paterson, Rolande Dianne Baker and Nicole Elizabeth Enfield, were charged were violating a law against making a “harangue” in the Supreme Court building and another barring interference with the administration of justice, court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said by email. After a 19-month closure because of the coronavirus pandemic, the courtroom was reopened to the public in October. The last time Supreme Court arguments were interrupted was in 2015 when opponents of rulings that lifted limits on money in political campaigns voiced their protest and even managed to get a camera past court security.
Tallahassee: A national anti-discrimination group is now involved in a discipline case at a Leon County charter school. A lawyer from the Southern Poverty Law Center is representing the parents of a child who they say was wrongfully expelled from Florida State University School. “I think that the administration response has been … completely disproportionate, and it has escalated this issue terribly,” said Cecilia Chouhy, the child’s mother. “They have shown no concern for the welfare of my child.” Chouhy said in October the school issued a “withdrawal without invitation,” which means her son has been removed from the school and not allowed back. The parents appealed the decision, and at a private hearing between the school and the child’s parents Friday, the school did not make a final decision. The parents said the school unfairly disciplined their 6-year-old son, who they say does not have a disciplinary record, after he threw a temper tantrum and allegedly hit a teacher after he took away the child’s Pokémon card. The school allegedly told the parents and their son, who are Latino, that administrators contacted law enforcement and that the child could be charged with a felony for the incident. Florida law, however, prohibits arrests of children younger than 7 years, except for felonies such as murder or manslaughter.
Atlanta: Mayor Andre Dickens announced Monday that he has appointed the city’s interim police chief to fill the position permanently. Darin Schierbaum, who has served as interim chief since June, has been with the Atlanta Police Department for two decades. Dickens said in a news release that Schierbaum shares his vision for public safety in Atlanta and was selected after a national search. “He has earned my trust, the respect of our community, and the support of the women and men of the Atlanta Police Department,” Dickens said. “A proponent of 21st Century Policing, Chief Schierbaum will continue building deep ties between the Atlanta police and the community they serve.” Schierbaum joined the department in 2002 after graduating as valedictorian in his police academy class. He had previously worked for 10 years with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois. During his career in Atlanta, he has led the Community Liaison Unit, the LGBT Liaison Unit, the Hispanic Liaison Unit and the Graffiti Abatement Unity, the release says. He has also been involved in training officers and has overseen public safety for major events in the city. “I thank Mayor Dickens for the opportunity to serve this city and the incredible men and women of the Atlanta Police Department,” Schierbaum said in the release.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam: The Navy on Tuesday said it will ask the public how it should use a fuel storage facility in the hills above Pearl Harbor once it has finished draining petroleum from its massive storage tanks. The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility leaked petroleum into Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year and sickened nearly 6,000 people, mostly those living in military housing. The Navy said it would seek permission from the Hawaii Department of Health to leave the tanks inside the hillside, where they were built during World War II. Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, told reporters at a news conference that it would be safer for the environment to leave the tanks in place once they are cleaned. The Navy also said leaving them there would allow them to be put to another use. The Navy hasn’t determined what they will be used for yet, only that they won’t be used to store fuel again. The Navy plans to ask the public for ideas through meetings and webinars. One possibility is to use the tanks to store water for a pumped hydroelectric power facility.
Boise: The first confirmed case this year of chronic wasting disease has been detected in a deer in Idaho County, state wildlife officials said. Idaho Fish and Game last month said a white-tailed deer found dead along the side of the road tested positive for the disease. The agency said the cause of the deer’s death is unknown. The contagious and fatal neurological disorder was first detected in the state in the same area last fall. That area accounts for all seven detected cases in the state. The discovery of the disease last year prompted the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to designate a chronic wasting disease management zone. The disease found in game animals carries potential health concerns for hunters because it’s in the same family as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people not eat meat from animals with the disease, though it has never been documented to infect humans. The most recent deer testing positive was found in Fish and Game’s Management Unit 14, the only unit in Idaho where chronic wasting disease has been detected. All seven animals that have tested positive in the state were between the towns of Riggins and Grangeville.
Springfield: A collection of valuable Lincoln artifacts, some of which were recently displayed in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s Treasury Gallery, is no longer in Springfield. ALPLM spokesman Chris Wills confirmed Wednesday that the 1,500 or so items were picked up Monday by the Lincoln Presidential Foundation, which had a relationship with the ALPLM until last year. The story was first reported by WBEZ-FM, a National Public Radio affiliate in Chicago. The private foundation had originally been set up as a fundraising arm of the ALPLM, but the acrimony between the two culminated over pieces in what is known as the Taper Collection and money still owed by the foundation on its purchase. Louise Taper is a southern California historian and author who sold the collection to the foundation for between $23 million and $25 million in 2007. Taper was awarded the Order of Lincoln in 2009. In the collection was a pair of bloody gloves that Lincoln was carrying and one of the two cufflinks on the shirt he was wearing when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on April 14, 1865. There was also a number of letters in Lincoln’s handwriting in the collection.
Indianapolis: The sidewalks of downtown spilled over with students visiting from across the country for the 95th annual FFA convention last week, with more than 69,000 in attendance over four days. “It actually felt like a pre-COVID year for our convention,” said Mandy Hazlett, the associate director of convention and events at the National FFA Organization. “We were able to bring back events in our convention that we were unable to in person last year.” The Indiana Convention Center hosted nearly 1.3 million visitors by the end of September, marking a near-complete recovery for one of the city’s most important industries. That’s about the same number the facility hosted in 2019 in that time and a big jump from the 230,000 the center hosted in 2020 and 840,000 in 2021. By the first months of next year, “Indianapolis will probably be able to proclaim 100% plus recovery from the pandemic,” said Chris Gahl, an administrator at the tourism nonprofit Visit Indy. Hotel occupancy still lags slightly behind the year before the pandemic. The economic impact of convention tourism in the first nine months of this year, some $855 million, is a huge jump from $519 million in that time frame last year, according to Visit Indy.
Des Moines: A proposed massive development could turn the southwest corner of West Des Moines into a destination unlike any other in the state of Iowa. Developers announced plans Wednesday for The Grand Experience, a proposed $600 million, 226-acre entertainment district that could include a 100,000-square-foot indoor water park, a 400-room hotel and business conference center, a family entertainment center, a variety of dining options with different themes and experiences, new retail and office space, and 1,200 housing units with an emphasis on affordable homes for workers. The district would be located on Grand Avenue between 60th and 88th streets next to the future new campus of Des Moines University and the RecPlex. The Grand Experience would provide visitors to the newly opened sports and recreation complex with more options for entertainment nearby. “This is not scaled back,” said Riley Hogan, senior vice president for real estate services firm CBRE. “This is going big.” The centerpiece of the proposed development would be a water park two-and-a-half times the size of the Great Wolf Lodge water park in Kansas City, Kansas, and more akin to something found in the Wisconsin Dells, Hogan said.
Topeka: Tourists who seek out every state’s replica of the Liberty Bell would no longer be directed to a storage room of the Kansas Statehouse parking garage if the Docking State Office Building renovation goes through as proposed. “The staff members of the visitor’s center brought it to our attention that a must-see or a bucket list of a lot of people coming into the capitol or with a passport is they want to see the Liberty Bell,” said Sen. Elaine Bowers, R-Concordia. “And we would say, where’s the Liberty Bell at? Well, now we discovered that the Liberty Bell was on display. It was removed during renovation. We found it.” The bell is in a locked room on the first floor of the Statehouse parking garage. The bells were part of a U.S. Savings Bond campaign in the 1950s, with the federal government giving replicas to each state and a handful of other locations. They are commonly displayed at or around state capitol buildings. Such was the case in Kansas until extensive renovation efforts began two decades ago, evicting the bell to storage. “There’s 57 total. Kansas is the only one not on display,” Bowers said. “So you can imagine the folks’ disappointment when they come to the capitol wanting to see the Liberty Bell. With permission with the security guards, the Capitol Police, they will take visitors down to see the bell so they can mark it off their passport list.”
Frankfort: Visibly frustrated lawmakers on Wednesday questioned subjects of a recent investigation on whether they are serving the reading needs of the state’s students. George Hruby, executive director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, and Lindy Harmon, director of Reading Recovery in the state, appeared before the panel of lawmakers in a Capitol annex meeting room. The morning questioning lasted about 40 minutes. Lawmakers’ inquiries primarily focused on Reading Recovery, an intervention program under national scrutiny for its instructional methods. State Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, Sen. Steven West, R-Paris, and Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, each sat on the committee. The three legislators, who pushed through a new state literacy law earlier this year, said they were not satisfied with the testimony. “I think they talk in circles,” Bojanowski said after the hearing. “It’s kind of more of the same,” West said. “It’s frustrating,” Tipton said. “And it’s frustrating because we want to see improvement now.” Spring 2022 testing results show less than half of Kentucky’s third through fifth graders were considered proficient readers, while nearly 30% outright failed their exams.
Shreveport: A new study claims Louisiana is one of the worst states for millennials to live based on affordability, political and social environment, employment, quality of life, health, personal finance and safety. Members of the millennial generation – typically born between 1981 and 1996 – are currently among the biggest contributors to the economy. They have experienced slower economic growth than the previous generations due to the multiple recessions hitting at peak times of their lives. There are a number of challenges that will influence millennials’ decisions on where to live and work. Scholaroo’s newest report on the best and worst states for millennials gathered data on 52 metrics that affect the generation’s decisions on where to live. Considerations like the cost of living, homeownership rate, unemployment rate and more were the driving factors of this study. Louisiana came in dead last for the overall score of the worst place for millennials to live, with the breakdown ranking the state 31st for affordability, 50th for political and social environment, 33rd for employment, 28th for quality of life, 48th for health, 48th for personal finance and 46th for safety. As of 2022, Louisiana sits at the No. 2 spot for the highest mental distress rate of millennials at 21.9%, right behind Arkansas’ 23.6%.
Portland: The federal government has outlined a strategy to try to protect an endangered species of whale while also developing offshore wind power off the East Coast. President Joe Biden’s administration has made a priority of encouraging offshore wind along the Atlantic coast as the U.S. pursues greater energy independence. Those waters are also home to the declining North Atlantic right whale, which numbers about 340 in the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a draft plan this month to conserve the whales while allowing for the building of wind projects. The agencies said the ongoing efforts to save the whales and create more renewable energy can coexist. “As we face the ongoing challenges of climate change, this strategy provides a strong foundation to help us advance renewable energy while also working to protect and recover North Atlantic right whales, and the ecosystem they depend on,” said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
Hagerstown: The management of a former city pesticide plant could last decades. In 2015, a federal Environmental Protection Agency official said operators of the contaminated former pesticide mixing site along Mitchell Avenue in Hagerstown “couldn’t have picked a worse place” to run it. Bob Wallace, a remedial project manager for the EPA, said at the time that groundwater runs in all directions from the site. In an attempt to track any contamination leaving the 19-acre property, remediation crews injected dye into sink holes on the property to determine where it might flow. Wallace, who was among a number of EPA officials and others who gave an update of the cleanup of the site Tuesday, said dye showed up 2 miles to the east. It also appeared 4 miles to the west, 4 miles to the southwest and 3 miles to the north, Wallace said. But he said previously that just because dye shows up at a location doesn’t mean it’s contaminated, and he said Tuesday that analysis continues on any possible threats to nearby groundwater supplies. He said the work will probably continue at least for another year. In the meantime, project officials have constructed a facility that treats groundwater at the old industrial site. It started operation in July and has treated about 5.4 million gallons of water, Wallace said. Asked how long the plant might be needed to treat the groundwater, Wallace said it could be at least 30 years. “This is like a forever Superfund site,” Wallace said.
Boston: The general manager of the region’s troubled public transit system, who shepherded the agency through the pandemic when ridership plummeted and has faced calls to resign during a federal safety review, announced Tuesday that he will step down early next year. Steve Poftak said in a letter to employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority that his last day on the job will be Jan. 3, just days before a new governor is sworn in. “Serving as MBTA General Manager has been the experience of a lifetime and it has been my honor and privilege to work with all of you,” he wrote. “While we have faced and will continue to face challenges, I believe in the strength and resilience of the MBTA. As I look back on my four years as General Manager, I take great pride in what we have accomplished together.” The letter did not say what his plans were. Poftak, who was appointed to the MBTA’s fiscal control board in 2015 by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, took over as general manager in December 2018 from Luis Ramirez, who spent just 15 months on the job. Baker’s term ends in January, and he is not seeking reelection.
Benton Harbor: State officials said Wednesday that nearly all the lead pipes in Benton Harbor have been replaced roughly a year after a lead water crisis forced residents to avoid their tap water and use bottled water for simple tasks like cooking and drinking. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last fall that the city would have its lead service lines replaced within 18 months, a fast pace for a process that often takes years or decades. Five months before the deadline, about 4,500 pipes have been replaced or confirmed not to contain lead. There are only about 40 more inspections to go, state officials said. “We are getting it done ahead of schedule,” Whitmer said in a statement. For three straight years, tests of Benton Harbor’s water system revealed lead levels in its tap water that were too high. Lead is a health hazard that can be especially harmful to young children, stunting their development and lowering IQ scores. Benton Harbor is a majority-Black community of just under 10,000 people. After complaints from activists last year that not enough was being done to combat the lead problem, officials said the city’s tap water should mostly be avoided and provided free bottled water to residents.
Minneapolis: A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to threatening a U.S. senator, according to federal prosecutors. Brendon Daugherty, 35, of Coon Rapids, entered the plea to one count of interstate transmission of a threat during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Tuesday. According to court documents, Daugherty left two threatening voice mail messages for a senator who was unnamed but who lives outside Minnesota on June 11. In the first message, Daugherty said the senator and the Republican Party was pushing him to become a domestic terrorist, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “Have a nice (expletive) day; can’t wait to kill ya,” Daugherty said. In the second message, Daugherty threatened to carry out “nefarious goals,” Luger said. “I also just wanted to note, thank God the Republican Party is against gun control laws because it would keep guns out of the hands of a person that was disabled and volatile like I am, but you guys are totally against that,” the message said.
Jackson: Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he will ask legislators to approve about $240 million in state incentives for an economic development project in the northern part of the state. The Republican governor declined to name the company, saying he had signed a nondisclosure agreement. “Once we get through the legislative process and once we get final agreements signed, we will announce that the deal is done,” he said during a news conference. Reeves said the company is large and “has a long history of success.” Mississippi governors often have quick timelines to push incentives packages through the Legislature for large economic development projects, and it’s not unusual for them to try to keep company names secret until deals are complete. Some legislators have raised concerns about the special session that began Wednesday. “We don’t have many details at the moment, but we’re concerned that GOP leaders will try to push some kind of corporate welfare package through with little debate or oversight,” Republican state Rep. Dana Criswell of Olive Branch, a member of the Mississippi Freedom Caucus, said in an email Tuesday. Reeves announced Monday that he is calling legislators to the Capitol to consider incentives for a company that would create 1,000 jobs within the next few years. He said the average salary would be $93,000 – significantly higher than than the average pay for jobs in one of the poorest states in the U.S.
Springfield: With winter on the horizon, the city’s crisis cold weather shelters are preparing to house more than 230 unsheltered individuals this season. The crisis cold weather season is Nov. 1 through March 31. Shelters are only open when overnight temperatures are 32 degrees or below for four consecutive hours between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Shelters open around 8 p.m. each night and close at 7 a.m. the following morning. In previous years, folks were asked to visit the Veterans Coming Home Center to sign up for shelter access and eat dinner. Then, they’d be transported to an appropriate shelter. However, this year is different. According to Lisa Landrigan, Community Partnership of the Ozarks crisis cold weather shelter coordinator, a home base for crisis cold weather shelter signup, dinner and transportation has yet to be determined. “We are still looking,” she said. “We have several asks out, and hopefully something will come through.” Crisis cold weather shelters need about six volunteers each night, Landrigan said. Right now, these volunteers are “critically needed.” Landrigan said January is the busiest month for crisis cold weather shelters. Last November, crisis cold weather shelters were open only five nights. In January, the shelters were open for 24 nights.
Helena: Affordable housing and affordable food are the top two needs in the state, and mental health services is the third, according to the results of a statewide needs assessment released last week from Montana State University Extension. “The results of this needs assessment are already being used by our MSU Extension faculty and staff as they continue to offer programs and resources,” Carrie Ashe, MSU Extension associate director, said in a statement. MSU Extension works with local partners to examine and address emerging needs in the state, The Daily Montanan reports. In a phone call, Ashe said MSU Extension counts 90 faculty across the state working in county and tribal extension offices, and they’re already taking steps to work on housing. She said it’s the first time in roughly seven or eight years the organization has conducted such a survey. Nearly 2,500 Montanans from all counties and reservations completed the survey, according to MSU Extension. Additionally, more than 800 people participated in listening sessions. Housing affordability and availability are top issues in Montana as real estate prices have soared across the state and people and families find themselves homeless.
Lincoln: Nebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse won approval Tuesday from the University of Florida Board of Trustees to be the school’s next president despite vocal opposition from some faculty and students. Sasse, a Republican, was recommended for the top post by a unanimous vote of the trustees. A final vote to elevate Sasse as the school’s 13th president is set for Nov. 10 by the state university system Board of Governors. The recommended compensation package for Sasse comes to about $1.6 million, university officials said. That will also be finalized at the governors meeting. During a four-hour meeting Tuesday on the Gainesville campus, Sasse sought to allay concerns that he’s more a creature of politics than academia by saying he will take a “pledge of political celibacy” with regard to partisan issues. “I would have no activity in partisan politics in any way as I arrive at the University of Florida,” Sasse said, adding that his candidacy was not pushed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis or other Florida elected officials. “There is just tons and tons of learning and listening that I need to do.”
Las Vegas: A Nevada judge on Wednesday set an April trial date for a former Las Vegas-area elected official who has pleaded not guilty to killing a veteran investigative journalist who wrote articles critical of him and his managerial conduct. Robert “Rob” Telles, a Democrat who was stripped by court order of his position as Clark County administrator, appeared with his attorney, Ryan Helmick, for a brief scheduling hearing before Judge Michelle Leavitt. Telles, 45, did not speak in court. He remains jailed without bail in the Sept. 2 stabbing death of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German outside German’s home. Helmick declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. At trial, Telles could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, after Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said last month that he found no qualifying aggravating factors to make Telles’ trial a capital case. The April 17 trial date could be delayed pending a Nevada Supreme Court ruling about whether police and prosecutors can access German’s cellphone and electronic devices despite objections raised by his newspaper about revealing the slain journalist’s confidential sources. Attorneys for police, who have German’s cellphone and laptop computers, say the criminal investigation won’t be complete until those records are reviewed.
Exeter: Three major development projects bringing affordable housing to the Seacoast are receiving a financial boost this week to help make the projects a reality. The Gateway at Exeter, Epping Meadows and McIntosh Dover Apartments were among the 30 developments chosen to receive a combined $49,506,378 in grant money through the state’s InvestNH Housing Program. The Gateway at Exeter, which seeks to bring 56 affordable housing units to Epping Road across from the Mobil Station, was selected to receive $3 million. The McIntosh project will receive $2.8 million to help bring 52 new affordable units to Dover while Epping Meadows will receive $786,771 for 30 affordable units.
Asbury Park: A grand jury has declined to bring criminal charges against a New Jersey police officer who fatally shot a knife-wielding man during a standoff at the Jersey Shore in 2020. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office said late Tuesday that the actions of Asbury Park Police Sgt. Sean DeShader were justified under the circumstances, noting that Hasani Best held a knife throughout the 45-minute encounter with police and was not deterred by being shocked with a stun gun. A spokesman for Best’s family on Wednesday denounced the decision. “Attempts to demonize Hasani Best, who was unnecessarily murdered, and vindicate Officer Sean DeShader, who murdered this Black man immediately following the national civil rights reckoning in the post-George Floyd world, tells us nothing has changed,” said Randy Thompson, CEO of the advocacy group Help Not Handcuffs. “There continues to be no transparency when police, prosecutors and judges abuse their positions and there are no protections for civilians within critical processes such as abuses within grand jury proceedings,” he said.
Santa Fe: The New Mexico Supreme Court has cleared the way for the state’s largest electric utility to delay issuing rate credits related to the recent closure of a coal-fired power plant. State regulators in June had ordered Public Service Co. of New Mexico to begin issuing the credits since the San Juan Generating Station was shutting down. The utility challenged the order and requested a stay. The utility has said the cost of doing business has gone up and that delaying credits would mean smaller rate increases for customers in the future. Utility spokesman Ray Sandoval told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the utility was pleased with the decision. “All parties had the opportunity to fully present their views to the court, and the court fully considered those positions in deciding that the stay should remain in place,” Sandoval wrote in an email.
New York: A man has been arrested with the gun used in a shooting last month outside the Long Island home of Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, authorities said Tuesday. Noah Green, 18, was arrested Monday in Shirley on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney announced. Green’s possible involvement in the Oct. 9 drive-by shooting outside Zeldin’s house is still being investigated, the district attorney’s office said. Two 17-year-old boys were wounded in the shooting. Zeldin, who faces Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in next Tuesday’s election, was not at home when the shooting occurred but said his twin teenage daughters were in the kitchen doing homework and heard gunshots and screaming.
Raleigh: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has quietly ended his litigation challenging the constitutionality of a powerful state commission that scrutinizes state agency rules, days before it was heading to court. Cooper’s private attorneys filed paperwork last Friday dismissing his August 2020 lawsuit against Republican legislative leaders. A hearing before three trial judges on the governor’s motion to have the composition of the 10-member Rules Review Commission struck down as unconstitutional was scheduled for Nov. 9. Cooper’s lawsuit alleged that a governor “lacks no meaningful control over” the commission because all of its members are picked by legislative leaders – five each by the recommendation of the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore – even though it acts like an executive branch agency. The lawsuit didn’t focus on a specific action by the commission, which decides whether to approve or reject temporary or permanent agency rules to carry out the details of state law. Rather, it examined broadly the commission’s actions in recent years and asked for a broad ruling throwing out the law. The lawsuit was dismissed “without prejudice,” which means Cooper could sue over the issue again – something that Cooper spokesperson Mary Scott Winstead could occur.
Bismarck: Gov. Doug Burgum rejected a plea Wednesday by North Dakota’s American Indian tribes to give them exclusive rights to host internet gambling and sports betting because it isn’t allowed under state law. “While we understand and appreciate the desire by some of the tribes to extend online gaming beyond their reservation boundaries, a clear legal path does not exist for the governor to grant such a broad expansion of gaming,” Burgum said in a statement. But Burgum did endorse the tribes’ appeal to lower the legal gambling age from 21 to 19 at the state’s five American Indian casinos, and let people use credit or debit cards to bet, spokesman Mike Nowatzki said.
Euclid: A white police officer who fatally shot a Black driver during a struggle inside a car in 2017 must pay his family $4.4 million. An Ohio jury made the award Tuesday, finding that Euclid officer Matthew Rhodes acted recklessly when he climbed into 23-year-old Luke Stewart’s car and shot him as Stewart drove away. The shooting had inflamed racial tensions in Euclid, a Cleveland suburb, and a grand jury declined to indict Rhodes after hearing evidence from prosecutors. The jury’s finding stemmed from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Stewart’s mother. The panel said Rhodes must pay Stewart’s family $3.9 million for the loss of his support and companionship and $500,000 for the pain and suffering he went through. But Rhodes will not have to pay punitive damages to the family or attorney’s fees.
Tulsa: The search for remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has turned up 21 additional coffins in unmarked graves in the city’s Oaklawn Cemetery, officials said. Seventeen adult-size graves were located Friday and Saturday, Oklahoma State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Monday. Additionally, the city announced Tuesday that four graves, two adult-size and two child-size, had been found. The coffins, then the remains, will be examined to see if they match reports from 1921 that the victims were males buried in plain caskets. “This is going to part of our process of discriminating which ones we’re going to proceed with in terms of exhuming those individuals and which ones we’re actually going to leave in place,” Stackelbeck said in a video statement. The work, by hand, was still under way. The types of coffins and gender of the victims have not been determined, according to the city’s statement.
Portland: A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced an eco-activist to community service but no extra time in custody, rejecting the government’s call for a yearslong prison term for the Seattle man related to arsons decades ago. Joseph Dibee, 54, was a fugitive for more than a decade. In April, Dibee pleaded guilty to the 1997 arson of a slaughterhouse in central Oregon that butchered wild horses and sold the meat in Europe. He also pleaded to the 2001 arson of a Bureau of Land Management wild horse corral in Litchfield, California. As part of his plea agreement, federal prosecutors dropped arson charges in Washington state. He told U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken Monday by video in federal court in Eugene that he was truly sorry, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Philadelphia: Philadelphia police have announced the arrest of a fourth suspect in September’s ambush shooting outside a Philadelphia high school that killed a 14-year-old and wounded four other teenagers after a football scrimmage. Police said Monday the 16-year-old is the fifth person authorities have identified as believed to have been involved in the Sept. 27 shooting outside of Roxborough High School. One 16-year-old suspect identified in the case remains at large. Authorities said five people jumped from a parked SUV and opened fire on teens who were walking away from an athletic field at the high school. Nicholas Elizalde, 14, was killed and three other teens were wounded and rushed to a hospital. One was treated at the scene. Police have said they don’t believe Elizalde was one of the intended targets of the attack. They said one of the shooters chased a 17-year-old victim down the street, striking him with shots to the leg and arm, and tried to fire as he stood over the victim but the gun either jammed or was out of bullets. Police have said they were seeking a total of six suspects: five shooters and a driver. At the time they said four suspects had been identified, they said those suspects would face charges of murder, four counts of aggravated assault, firearms crimes and other counts.
Coventry: In what the the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island calls “a victory for religious freedom,” the Town of Coventry has granted a zoning permit to a small Wiccan church in the rural village of Greene. “We were relieved. It was a long process that probably went on longer than it should have,” said Gail McHugh, founder and high priestess of Horn and Cauldron, Church of the Earth. McHugh says the permit is a win not just for her church, but also for religions like hers across the country. “Minor religions are being squelched and discriminated against,” she said Tuesday.
Columbia: Gov. Henry McMaster has asked President Joe Biden to authorize a disaster declaration to help with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts in South Carolina, his office said Tuesday. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that 17 homes were destroyed, 232 homes had major damage and 82 had minor damage because of the storm which came ashore near Georgetown on Sept. 30 with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier that week. Still, the storm left many areas of Charleston’s downtown peninsula under water. It also washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach. Ongoing assessments determined Ian cost state and local agencies more than $25 million. If the White House grants the request, the declaration would provide direct financial aid to residents who incurred uninsured damages to their property in Charleston, Georgetown and Horry counties through the FEMA Individual Assistance Program, according to the news release. State and local government agencies and eligible non-profits in Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper and Williamsburg counties also would qualify for reimbursement of some storm-related costs through the Public Assistance Program.
Sioux Falls: Republican Gov. Kristi Noem was looking to shore up support for her South Dakota reelection bid Wednesday through a series of campaign rallies with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Noem has risen to national prominence within the GOP during her term as the state’s first female governor but has shown some signs of political vulnerability, even in reliably-red South Dakota. The Republican governor has outspent her Democratic opponent, state lawmaker Jamie Smith, in the race by nearly six-to-one. Noem crisscrossed between the state’s largest cities for three rallies Wednesday. Smith, meanwhile, embarked on an RV tour that will circle the state in the week leading up to election day.
Nashville: More than 200 votes have been cast in the wrong races in Nashville since early voting began in Tennessee, election officials confirmed Wednesday. Davidson County election administrator Jeff Roberts said his office reviewed voter data throughout the night after The Associated Press first alerted officials Tuesday that voters were receiving conflicting information on what race they could vote in. That review determined that 190 voters cast ballots in a wrong congressional race, 16 cast votes in a wrong state Senate race and six cast votes in a wrong state House race. “The fix has been put in place,” Roberts said, adding he had sent the correct updates to the secretary of state’s office earlier Wednesday morning. He remained confident voters would receive the correct ballots for the last remaining two days of early voting in Tennessee. Officials say the votes that have been already cast will be counted for those races. Voters do not have an option to retract their vote.
Austin: Families of some of the 19 children killed in the Uvalde school massacre commemorated the Day of Dead with a rally, procession and a decorated altar outside the Texas Capitol on Tuesday night. Relatives, who marched to the mansion of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott carrying the altar, chose the location to again demand tougher gun laws in Texas following the May shooting at Robb Elementary School. They have been most vocal about raising the age to purchase AR-15-style rifles from 18 to 21. Abbott, who is up for reelection, has pushed back on that, saying it would be “unconstitutional.” “We are here today celebrating our children’s lives,” said Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi Rubio died in the Uvalde shooting, “but also trying to reach out to parents on a personal, on a mom and dad level. Just if you care about your children, protect them, go out to vote for candidates who support sensible gun legislation.”
Wendover: The Bonneville Salt Flats, a remnant of a prehistoric lakebed that is one of the American West’s many otherworldly landscapes, is growing thinner and thinner as the West suffers through its third decade of drought. Research has time and again shown that the briny water in the aquifer below the flats is depleting faster than nature can replenish it. As nearby groundwater replaces the mineral-rich brine, evaporation yields less salt than historic cycles of flooding and evaporation left on the landscape. It’s thinned by roughly one-third in the last 60 years. The overall footprint has shrunk to about half of its peak size in 1994. The crust keeps tires cool at high speeds and provides an ideal surface for racing – unless seasonal flooding fails to recede or leaves behind an unstable layer of salt. Racers struggle to find a track long enough to reach record speeds with only 8 miles of track compared 13 miles several decades ago. Scientists largely agree that years of aquifer overdraws by nearby potash mining have driven the problem, yet insist that there’s no hard evidence that simply paying the mining company to return water to the area will solve it amid detrimental human activity like extracting minerals or driving racecars.
Jay: A Utah-based resort company has completed its purchase of Jay Peak Resort, the northern Vermont ski area that was at the center of a financial scandal involving its former owner and president. Pacific Group Resorts, which owns five other ski areas, announced Tuesday that the state of Vermont had approved the assignment of leases for ski terrain, allowing the sale to close. A federal judge in September approved the company’s $76 million bid to buy Jay Peak after it won an auction for the ski area. “The leadership and guests of Jay Peak are fortunate to have an experienced resort operator like PGRI take the helm from here,” said court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg, who has been overseeing the resort for the last 61/2 years. Mark Fischer, PGRI’s executive vice-president and CFO, said in a statement that Jay Peak “is a highly respected resort property widely known for its prodigious snowfall and avid patrons” that fits into the company’s strategy of “geographic diversification.” He also said Jay Peak has dedicated staff that have created “a strong mountain culture.”
Manassas: A plan to redevelop a rural swath of northern Virginia into data centers has received approval after a marathon public hearing that stretched through the night. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted 5-2 Wednesday morning in support of the plan over the opposition of environmentalists and conservationists. Data centers that provide the backbone for the rapid increase in cloud computing have proliferated in northern Virginia, which has long been a technology hub. The data centers have proven to be a revenue boon to local governments, but neighbors have complained about noise and environmentalists have expressed concern about the massive amounts of electricity that data centers consume. In Prince William County, concern also centered around the viewshed for nearby Manassas National Battlefield Park. Supporters of the plan said it could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and that the plan is designed in a way to accommodate environmental concerns.
Seattle: Two foreign nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo who pleaded guilty in federal court in Seattle to participating in a smuggling ring that brought illegal ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales into the U.S. have been sentenced. Herdade Lokua was sentenced to 20 months and Jospin Mujangi was sentenced to 14 months in prison on Tuesday, the Justice Department said. They both in July pleaded guilty to two counts of an 11-count indictment alleging they worked with a middle man to facilitate shipments of poached items into Seattle. The court determined Lokua was the organizer of a trafficking operation involving more than five other co-conspirators whose goal was to ship a cargo container full of elephant ivory, white rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales to Seattle. Mujangi helped package the wildlife products and handled the financial details to process the payment.
Charleston: West Virginia Republican U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney is expected to breeze to victory in deep-red West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, and he’s all but completely ignored Democrat Barry Wendell, his opponent in next week’s election. Instead, he’s spending much of his energy on Sen. Joe Manchin, who endorsed Mooney’s opponent, outgoing Rep. David McKinley, during the state’s May primary. The two GOP congressmen were pitted against each other after population losses cost West Virginia a U.S. House seat, and Mooney won handily. Manchin has not yet officially announced whether he’ll run for reelection in 2024, and Mooney vows that his primary concern is seeing himself and other conservatives get elected and take back the majority in the U.S. House.
Madison: A Wisconsin appeals court and a circuit judge this week shot down attempts backed by liberals seeking orders that local election clerks must accept absentee ballots that contain partial addresses of witnesses. The rulings come within days of Tuesday’s election and as more than 503,000 absentee ballots have already either been returned or cast in person. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are both up for reelection in the battleground state. Numerous lawsuits have been filed leading up to the election focused on which absentee ballots can be counted or rejected. The status quo for determining whether an absentee ballot has enough of a witness address to count remains as it has been for the past 56 years, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas said in an order Wednesday. Wisconsin elections have been conducted, and absentee ballots counted, the past 56 years without a legally binding definition of what constitutes a witness address on a ballot, Colas wrote in his order.
Cheyenne: A southeastern Wyoming sheriff’s deputy was shot and a man was killed during an exchange of gunfire at a residence in East Cheyenne on Halloween night, marking the third fatal shooting involving law enforcement officers in Laramie County this year, officials said. Deputies responded to a residence to serve a warrant at about 8 p.m. Monday when shots were exchanged between deputies and a man at the residence, Sheriff Danny Glick said. The injured deputy was treated at the hospital and released Tuesday afternoon, KTWO-AM reported. The man died at the scene, Glick said. Officials have not released the names of either the man who was killed or the deputies involved. No one else was injured.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports