Manatee food crisis, Confederate holidays axed, Colorado wildfires contained: News from around our 50 states

·33 min read


Montgomery: Mayor Steven Reed named Darryl Washington the Economic Development director and David Card the Parks and Recreation director. The city announced the hires Tuesday, but Washington and Card started in their new roles earlier this month.


Juneau: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would hinder plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, the latest in a long-running dispute over efforts by developers to advance a mine in a region known for its salmon runs. The EPA said the proposal would bar discharges of dredged or fill material into the waters of the U.S. within the mine site footprint proposed by the developer, the Pebble Limited Partnership. The federal agency said it took into account information that has become available since it previously proposed restricting development in 2014, including new scientific analyses and a mine plan from the Pebble partnership that was submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a permit application.


Phoenix: Arizona’s clemency board has declined to recommend to Gov. Doug Ducey that the death sentence of a man convicted in the 1984 kidnapping and killing of an 8-year-old girl be reduced to a lesser punishment, rejecting his claims that he is innocent of the crimes. The decision by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency on Tuesday at the state prison in Florence marked one of the last steps before Frank Atwood’s execution in the 1984 killing of Vicki Hoskinson. Atwood is scheduled to be executed June 8 with an injection of pentobarbital.


Fort Smith: Voters approved two continued sales tax increases that will support the fire, parks and police departments, and consent decree projects.


Bakersfield: Some residents are concerned about potential explosions after a state agency found six idle oil wells near homes were leaking methane in the past several days. State and regional inspectors found concentrations of methane in the air around some of the wells at levels considered potentially explosive and environmental activists in the region are worried other chemicals might also be leaking from the wells that could pose a threat to public health. Uduak-Joe Ntuk, head of the California Geologic Energy Management division of the California Department of Conservation, the agency that oversees wells and confirmed they were leaking, said in a statement the leaks were “minor in nature and do not pose an immediate threat to public health or safety.”


Denver: Two wildfires burning in southern and western Colorado have been fully contained. A fire that burned more than 1,500 acres near the former mining town of Cripple Creek was fully contained Tuesday, nearly two weeks after it started, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office said. To the west, the spread of a wildfire near Montrose has also been stopped, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said Tuesday. The fire, which burned 313 acres, started on May 19. The cause is under investigation.


Hartford: Bob Stefanowski, the Republican Party’s endorsed candidate for governor, said has tested positive for the coronavirus. Stefanowski, 60, said he tested positive Monday morning after learning he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for the virus. Stefanowski is facing a rematch against Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, 68, who tested positive for the coronavirus last month after taking a regularly scheduled rapid self-test. Days later, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William Tong and Treasurer Shawn Wooden all tested positive, as well.


Dover: Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware’s top public health official who has led the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said she will leave her job next month. The News Journal reported Rattay, the country’s longest-serving public health director, will step down June 30 after leading the Division of Public Health for 13 years. It’s unknown where she will work next and who her successor will be. The state did not make Rattay available for an interview.

District of Columbia

Washington: Some D.C. school leaders are looking to strengthen sexual assault reporting policies after parents weren’t notified about an alleged assault on a student, WUSA-TV reported. Police said the alleged assault happened inside Ballou High School in southeast DC in mid-March. But school families said they only were notified days later after a parent posted about in a Facebook video. Carlene Reid, who represents Ward 8 on the State Board of Education, drafted a resolution on "sexual assault in schools" in response after she saw in the video. Reid said she hopes to get a vote on the resolution in the June 15 board meeting, but because the school board cannot pass policy, it’s now up to the DC Council to make this issue a priority.


St. Petersburg: Wildlife officials working to prevent threatened Florida manatees from starving to death said they’re encouraged that some of the marine mammals’ favorite food is growing naturally in a key area. Seagrasses have been found growing recently in small areas of the Indian River Lagoon along Florida’s east coast, where chronic pollution has wiped out much of it, officials said. “We take it as a positive there is seagrass growing, ”said Ron Mezich of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “What that means long-term, we have no idea.” The lack of seagrass forage during winter months has triggered an unprecedented die-off of manatees, including a record of more than 1,100 last year. The deaths recorded so far in 2022 are at 551, according to commission statistics. The FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in March completed an experimental program that fed manatees more than 202,000 pounds of donated lettuce near a power plant where the animals gather during colder months. Officials said a similar program is in the works for the coming winter.


Atlanta: A group that works to protect Georgia’s waterways has released a free Georgia River Guide mobile app. The Georgia River Guide app seeks to help people experience the recreation on Georgia’s network of more than 30 water trails, according to the Georgia River Network. Paddlers, boaters, anglers and others who use the rivers can use the app to find trails and learn about river access points, mileage, water falls and other points of interest, the group said. Safety information such as river difficulty, potential hazards and rapids are also included. The Georgia River Guide app is available in Apple and Google Play stores.


Honolulu: The University of Hawaii said it will require masks indoors across its 10-campus system amid a spike in COVID-19 cases on the islands. The new rule took effect Wednesday. Those working alone or who are separated by more than 6 feet from others will be exempt. The university said the rule adheres to recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state Department of Health and the school’s medical experts. The CDC ranks Hawaii fourth in the nation for new coronavirus cases, the university said. The state has a seven-day average rate of 495.9 cases per 100,000 people.


Boise: A California man convicted of kidnapping an 11-year-old Idaho girl could be released from prison after five to seven months if he successfully completes a treatment program. Third District Judge Randall Grove on Tuesday sentenced Brian Sangjoon Lee to up to 10 years in prison, but retained jurisdiction and said he could be released from prison and placed on probation before 2023 if he completes the Idaho Department of Correction program, the Idaho Statesman reported. Lee pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping in exchange for prosecutors reducing the charge from first-degree kidnapping. Second-degree kidnapping carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison.


Chicago: One person died and seven others also were injured Tuesday in a pileup crash involving at least seven vehicles on the Tri-State Tollway around Chicago, authorities said. The crash that occurred about 6 a.m. near northwest suburban Glenview shut down all southbound lanes of the tollway, which is also Interstate 294, for more than 5 hours, Illinois State Police said. All southbound lanes reopened by 1:30 p.m. Two people, including the person who died, were transported to hospitals, the Glenview Fire Department said. The other person hospitalized in the crash suffered minor injuries. The others were treated at the scene of the crash.


Indianapolis: Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a bill banning transgender females from competing in girls school sports, allowing Indiana to join about more than a dozen other states adopting similar laws in the past two years. State senators voted 32-15 in favor of overriding Holcomb following the same action in a 67-28 vote by the House earlier in the day. Holcomb had said in his veto message that the bill did not provide a consistent policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports” when he unexpectedly vetoed it in March.


Des Moines: Deer hunters would be able to use semi-automatic rifles during a newly created antlerless season in January under a bill approved by lawmakers Tuesday and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds. The measure given final approval by the House is designed to help control the deer population and respond to complaints that excess deer eat corn and are hazardous to motorists.


Salina: After being canceled in 2020 and moved to September for 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smoky Hill River Festival is back to its typical spot on the calendar in the second week of June. The 46th annual edition of the festival will run from June 9-12, featuring more than 130 visual artists and 75 performers at Oakdale Park.


Covington: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine have asked the federal government to spend $2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure deal to build a new Ohio River bridge and fix an existing, outdated span that has long been the source of frustration for commuters and politicians. Overhauling the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati with northern Kentucky, was a big selling point for President Joe Biden during the debate over the federal infrastructure legislation. He touted the project last July at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, vowing his administration would “fix that damn bridge of yours” if the legislation passed. Just before signing the bill in November, Biden said he expected the bridge would finally get funding. Governors from both states announced Tuesday they jointly submitted an application asking for $1.66 billion in federal funding to make the needed improvements.


Baton Rouge: Two Confederate holidays would be erased from Louisiana law under legislation approved 4-2 by a state Senate committee. The House-passed bill by Rep. Matthew Willard, a New Orleans Democrat, goes next to the full Senate. Neither Confederate Memorial Day nor the day honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee have been observed in Louisiana for years. They are among a list of holidays a governor can proclaim in addition to other, permanent holidays that include Christmas and Independence Day. The governor is limited in the number he can proclaim in a year. As amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee A on Tuesday, the list of optional holidays still would include President’s Day, National Memorial Day and a day honoring Huey P. Long, the former Louisiana governor and U.S. senator. Committee chairman Barrow Peacock, a Republican from the Shreveport-Bossier area, was among the bill’s opponents. He said the holidays should be seen as memorials and markers of history that should be remembered.


Alfred: Three FedEx delivery vehicles traveling single file crashed into each other, sending one driver to the hospital and tying up traffic, officials said. The delivery vehicles collided with each other when traffic slowed in front of them late Tuesday morning on busy Route 111, said Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety. All of the trucks suffered damage, and one of them was pushed off the highway into a tree, Moss said. One FedEx driver was taken to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, Moss said.


Baltimore: A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to making threats against the National Security Agency and its employees, prosecutors said Tuesday. Ryan Matthew Conlon, 38, of Halethorpe pleaded guilty to making interstate threatening communications concerning the NSA and its employees, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron said. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher sentenced Conlon to six months of home detention as part of three years’ probation. The NSA headquarters office is based at Fort Meade.


Boston: Massachusetts has sued more than a dozen companies involved in the manufacture or marketing of forever chemicals, alleging they knowingly polluted the environment and endangered public health, state Attorney General Maura Healey said. The companies have known about the dangers of PFAS chemicals – found in firefighting foam and consumer products – for years and violated federal and state environmental laws, she said at a news conference. The chemicals have polluted more than 126 public drinking water systems in 86 Massachusetts communities, the state said. Those communities now face multimillion-dollar price tags to clean up the chemicals, Healey said. In addition, the chemicals have contaminated lakes, streams, rivers, and coastal zones including Cape Cod – areas critical for marine life, the suit said.


Lansing: The Michigan Court of Appeals opened the door Wednesday to abortion opponents who are trying to overturn a recent decision that suspended the state’s long-dormant ban on the procedure. The court set a briefing schedule that runs through July 5. A judge at the Court of Claims last week issued a preliminary injunction that freezes a 1931 ban on abortion in most instances. If the injunction stands, it means abortion would not be illegal in Michigan if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by summer. Right to Life of Michigan, the Michigan Catholic Conference and two county prosecutors are asking the appeals court to throw out the injunction granted by Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, who said the law likely violates the state constitution. They said there was no reason for Gleicher to act because abortion remains legal in Michigan.


Minneapolis: Two administrative law judges said Minnesota natural gas utilities should be allowed to pass on an extra $660 million in costs related to storm damage to their customers. The state Department of Commerce and Attorney General’s Office alleged the utilities made critical mistakes in their gas procurement procedures during the February 2021 storm and because of the mismanagement, customers should not pay for the extra costs. In a decision released Tuesday, the judges rejected the state agencies’ contentions. The judges’ decisions are not binding, but they can influence the state Public Utilities Commission, which has the final say. The commission is expected to decide the matter this summer. It will also consider the positions of the Commerce Department, the Attorney General’s Office and other parties, the Star Tribune reported.


Jackson: A convicted killer’s effort to get his execution quickly scheduled has been dismissed by the state’s Supreme Court, weeks after the condemned man changed his mind. Blayde Nathaniel Grayson, 46, filed a handwritten letter to the high court in December requesting that his execution for a 1996 killing be set immediately. Days later, Grayson’s attorney moved to withdraw that request, noting that Grayson still had a federal appeal pending. The Supreme Court ordered a state district court to get a statement from Grayson as to whether he wanted to waive appeals and have his execution date set. In April, Grayson told a judge, under oath, that he wanted to continue his appeals. In a ruling dated Friday, the Supreme Court formally dismissed his motion for a quick execution. Grayson was convicted of capital murder in 1997 for the stabbing death the previous year of 78-year-old Minnie Smith during a home burglary in south Mississippi’s George County.


Kansas City: A Missouri man will be laid to rest Saturday, more than 80 years after he died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Navy returned the remains of Seaman 1st Class Wilbur Francis Newton to Kansas City International Airport on Tuesday. Newton was among more than 400 crewman killed on the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack. His remains were identified as part of a project by the Department of Defense agency known as The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Researchers needed maternal DNA to get a match, and reached the last living relative on Newton’s mother’s side before she died in 2012. Robin Deeds, a child of one of Newton’s cousins, said Newton will be buried Saturday at Mount Hope Cemetery in Mound City. He said more than 50 cousins plan to attend the service, KCTV-TV reported. Newton will be laid to rest in a burial plot with a grave marker that his parents bought for him before they died in the late 1940s.


Great Falls: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that five central Montana community development organizations will receive a combined total of $9.7 million in federal funding to redevelop environmentally contaminated sites across 20 counties. The windfall came as $21 billion in funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act begin to become available. The money is earmarked to address legacy pollution in the United States, allocated to clean up Superfund and Brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. Near the top of the list of revitalization packages are plans to clean up the Crowley Block, a century-old storefront property on Main Street in Lewistown.


Lincoln: A man with a long history of mental illness when he killed the grandfather of two Nebraska football players more than two decades ago has died in prison. Russell Harms died in the Nebraska prison system’s Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln on Monday, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said. in a news release. Harms was 64. Harms had been in prison 22 years for gunning down 84-year-old Tennyson Kelsay in the parking lot of an Auburn shopping center in 1999. Kelsay was the grandfather of then-Nebraska rush end Chris Kelsay and former Nebraska and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Chad Kelsay. Harms was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison after his trial judge rejected his insanity defense, despite Harms having been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with a long history of failed medications and hospitalizations. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld Harms’ conviction and sentence.


Elko: A 20-year-old Elko County man convicted of sexually assaulting and killing a Spring Creek teenager two years ago has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. A jury deliberated for two hours Monday before settling on Bryce Dickey’s sentence on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 16-year-old Gabrielle “Britney” Ujlaky. Her parents had provided emotional testimony about how her death has turned their world upside down, the Elko Daily Free Press reported. Police originally treated Ujlaky’s disappearance as a runaway case after Dickey told investigators he saw her get into a green pickup truck with a tall man wearing a cowboy hat outside Spring Creek High School on March 8, 2020. Her mother, Alisha, told Dickey on Monday that she had waited for two years to confront him. “I believed your ridiculous lies and your story about the green truck, and you let me come try and comfort you, knowing that you had raped and murdered my daughter,” she said. Judge Mason Simons will sentence Dickey later on the sexual assault charge, to be added to the murder sentence.

New Hampshire

Concord: A man who was allegedly killed by a female coworker’s husband who discovered they had been texting, had other gunshot wounds, cuts and bruises before he died of a bullet to the head, the state’s chief medical examiner testified. “It’s very likely he was immediately unconscious at this point and would have died within minutes,” Jennie Duval said about the last bullet that went into Jonathan Amerault, 25, who was killed in September 2020 and later beheaded. His other injuries had caused a lot of bleeding and pain, she said. Amerault’s head was cut off using two weapons, likely a saw and a knife, Duval testified during the first-degree murder trial of Armando Barron, 32, in Keene. Prosecutors alleged Barron assaulted his wife and used her cellphone to lure Amerault to a park just north of the Massachusetts state line the night he discovered the texts, beat and kicked Amerault, and tried to force his wife to shoot him. She refused, and he forced Amerault into the victim’s car and shot him three times, prosecutors said. His wife, Britany Barron, testified last week that she was then forced to drive the car 200 miles north to a remote campsite. There, she said, she was forced to behead Amerault and dispose of his body.

New Jersey

Newark: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implored graduating college students on Tuesday to reject jobs at companies that fund the fossil fuel industry he described as “killing our planet.” Guterres made his remarks to graduating seniors at Seton Hall University. Guterres told the class at Newark’s Prudential Center that they are entering a world “brimming with peril” from conflict and strife and the effects of climate change – but that they can reverse the errors of previous generations by not working for financial institutions that profit off fossil fuels. Guterres’s remarks came a week after he announced a five-point plan to encourage use of renewable energy around the globe, in the wake of a World Meteorological Organization report that said the last seven years were the seven-hottest on record.

New Mexico

A crew works on a BNSF train after it stalled in the middle of Las Cruces, N.M., on Tuesday. The train blocked major crossings, including Picacho and Amador avenues, for about 3 hours.
A crew works on a BNSF train after it stalled in the middle of Las Cruces, N.M., on Tuesday. The train blocked major crossings, including Picacho and Amador avenues, for about 3 hours.

Las Cruces: A BNSF train stalled in the middle of Las Cruces on Tuesday afternoon, blocking vehicles and pedestrians from seven crossings for about 3 hours, including at Picacho and Amador avenues. The Hoagland Road and Avenida de Mesilla crossings were open for vehicles. According to two reporters on the scene, the train started moving again just before 7 p.m. MDT. According to drivers in the area, the train stalled on the tracks at about 4 p.m.

New York

New York City: An outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in a Bronx neighborhood has sickened 19 people since the beginning of the month, with one person dying, city health officials said Wednesday. The Health Department said cooling towers in the borough’s Highbridge section had been tested for the presence of the bacteria Legionella, which causes the disease, a form of pneumonia. The bacteria was found in four of the towers, which the department ordered to be disinfected. In addition to the person who died, eight people have been hospitalized, the department said.

North Carolina

Manteo: Debris from two houses that collapsed into the surf on North Carolina’s Outer Banks are washing ashore, prompting the National Park Service to issue warnings to visitors walking along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The park service said in a news release Wednesday that some of the debris is covered by sand and some of it is fully exposed. Officials advised visitors to wear hard-soled footwear on the beach between Rodanthe and Salvo, although sharp debris might also be found in areas south of Salvo. The unoccupied homes were located along Ocean Drive in the Outer Banks community of Rodanthe. A third house in Rodanthe collapsed in February.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Secretary of State Al Jaeger denied a move by a group that wants to change the voter threshold for amending the state constitution. Jaeger said in a letter to the sponsoring committee that nearly 6,000 of the signatures were invalid. The committee last month delivered 910 petitions with a claimed 33,624 signatures, just above the 31,000 that must be approved to get the proposed measure on the November ballot. Jaeger said the final count of accepted signatures was 25,884. Ten petitions were thrown out because they were not circulated in their entirety and petitions turned in by three circulators were rejected for numerous errors, Jaeger said. Some of the petitions included signatures from residents of other states.


Columbus: Gov. Mike DeWine ended Ohio’s participation in a federal pandemic unemployment aid program ahead of a government deadline for stopping the payments. Attorneys for the Republican governor argued he had the legal authority to do so. People who lost out on additional benefits said DeWine didn’t, and should have continued them. The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides Wednesday. A decision isn’t expected for weeks. At issue before the court is a weekly $300 federal payment for Ohioans to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government ended that program Sept. 6, but DeWine stopped the payments June 26, 2021, saying the need for the payments was over.


Oklahoma City: A proposal to end free curbside parking in Midtown is facing some opposition from a handful of business owners who worry about losing employees and customers. Jason Ferbrache, director at EMBARK, unveiled a proposal Tuesday to the Oklahoma City Council that proposed installing parking meters in Midtown and Automobile Alley. The money made from new metered spaces would be split, with 60% going to the city and 40% going to new Midtown and Automobile Alley parking districts. Proponents argued the parking meters will turn over to visitors parking spaces otherwise taken up by area employees. Owners of Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, Harvey Street Bakery, 405 Yoga, Ludivine, and R&J Lounge and Supper Club said the plan could hurt them at a time when they’re still recovering from the pandemic.


Salem: A state commission has adopted three temporary rules that could significantly impact future housing developments, prioritizing dense communities and walkability while deemphasizing automobiles. The temporary rules augment three areas of state law: housing development, transportation planning and metropolitan greenhouse gas reduction targets. The rules apply to the eight largest metropolitan areas in Oregon: Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene/Springfield, Grants Pass, Medford/Ashland, Portland metro and Salem/Keizer. One aspect of the new rules is these metro areas would need to designate "climate-friendly areas," which would become central to future developments as cities look to expand. These zones would contain higher-density housing, jobs, businesses and services and include "high-quality" pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure.


Mount Joy: Harold Billow, 99, the last known survivor of a World War II POW massacre during the Battle of the Bulge, will be laid to rest Thursday in Pennsylvania. Billow, who died May 17, was attached to the Army’s 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion when his unit surrendered and he was taken prisoner by Waffen SS soldiers as German forces launched an offensive in Belgium to try to change the war’s tide in December 1944. According to various accounts, the Germans opened fire on the unarmed prisoners in a field, killing more than 80 in what came to be known as the Malmedy Massacre. “As soon as the machine gun started firing, I went facedown in the snow,” Billow told Lancaster Online in 2019. He played dead as the Germans checked for survivors. “Anybody that showed signs of life, they would point-blank shoot them in the head to finish them off,” Billow said. Billow said he stayed there for several hours before he and other survivors bolted. He made his way through hedgerows before reaching the safety of American lines. After the war, he was called to testify at a war crimes trial in which 43 German soldiers were sentenced to death for the Malmedy Massacre. However, they were released after investigators determined U.S. guards had coerced confessions.

Rhode Island

Providence: Democratic Gov. Dan McKee signed legislation Wednesday to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in the state. McKee scheduled a bill signing ceremony at the State House for Wednesday afternoon after Rhode Island’s General Assembly overwhelming voted in favor of the legislation Tuesday night. His office said the legislation accomplishes the priorities of making sure legalization is equitable, controlled and safe. It will legalize the sale and possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for adults, ages 21 and older, with no more than 10 ounces for personal use kept at a person’s home. It will also allow residents to grow a small amount at home.

South Carolina

Chester: A magistrate who has been reprimanded and whose husband is a former sheriff awaiting sentencing for stealing money from government programs has been suspended from the bench for six months, the South Carolina Supreme Court said. Chester County Magistrate Angel Underwood used her official judicial email account to help her husband write a disciplinary order on a sheriff’s office employee and to recommend a student for a scholarship on behalf of deputies, the justices wrote in their order. Underwood also pulled private crime tips from the sheriff’s office Facebook page and emailed to deputies on her judicial account, according to court records. Underwood’s actions “served to erode public confidence in the judiciary” because they “blurred the boundaries between her role as an independent and impartial magistrate and someone acting on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department,” the order said. The state Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Underwood in 2016 for failing to point out her husband was the sheriff each time she started to hear a case involving the Chester County Sheriff’s Office. Underwood pointed out there were no complaints on how she handled those cases.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: The Sioux Falls School District’s nutrition trucks with the iconic 1980s apple logo will no longer be on the streets, but a more colorful, designer logo will take the apple’s place. Local artist Megan Jansick with MJ Designs came up with the new look at the beginning of 2022, for the trucks that take food from the district’s central kitchen to elementary school sites, and are on the roads in Sioux Falls for miles and miles each day. With the district’s recent branding and website changes, we “really wanted to define who we are as a Sioux Falls School District,” spokeswoman DeeAnn Konrad said at the school board meeting Monday night. Fruit and vegetable characters, trees made of broccoli, a milk waterfall and homes made of bread cover the new trucks. Some Sioux Falls landmarks are also visible, such as Levitt at the Falls. Some characters will be used in other ways to promote the lunch service, Konrad said. Five of the district’s 10 trucks have been wrapped with the new designs, at a cost of $2,400 per truck, spokeswoman Carly Uthe said. The remaining five will be wrapped in the next fiscal year.


Nashville: Tennessee agriculture officials said work has begun to clean up debris at Natchez Trace State Forest after a December tornado damaged the park. A tornado that tore through Henderson County on Dec. 10 made a path about 6 miles long through the forest, causing heavy damage to about 1,400 acres, the state Agriculture Department said. The goal of the operation is to rehabilitate the forest by clearing tree debris to allow public access and improve forest health, officials said. Crews have started harvesting logs of pine and hardwood trees, department spokesman Tim R. Phelps said. Work is expected to last until December.


Richmond: A Texas man has been arrested for what authorities said was his role in an online romance scam in which women were cheated out of a total of nearly $1 million by someone pretending to be an Army general, federal prosecutors in Rhode Island said. Fola Alabi, also known as Folayemi Alabi, 51, was arrested at his Richmond home Tuesday and charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha. No defense attorney was listed in online court records. Alabi or an alleged accomplice pretending to be a general stationed overseas befriended women on social media on various dates last year, gradually gaining their trust by feigning romantic or personal interest, prosecutors said. The women were asked to send money to the fake general to help ship his belongings back to the U.S., according to court documents. They were asked to send the money to companies in Texas controlled by Alabi or someone associated with him, at his home address, prosecutors said. Many of the women were in their 70s and 80s and either widowed or divorced, according to an affidavit in the case. They were from Rhode Island, Tennessee, North Carolina, California, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Idaho and South Dakota.


Springdale: Zion National Park officials expect a busy Memorial Day weekend and for the crowds to bleed into the weekdays, as well. In 2021, an estimated 100,000 visitors were at the park on Memorial Day weekend from Friday through Monday, according to a release from the National Park Service. Park officials said they anticipate long waits at the entrances, trailheads, and visitor centers. Springdale, the gateway town located just outside the park's main entrance, will be heavy with traffic throughout the week and visitors should expect long lines getting into the park. They can also expect long wait times for shuttles and intermittent closures at the park's east and south vehicle entrances. To keep up with any changes or closures to the park visit


Burlington: A former Chittenden County man has been arraigned on charges accusing him of threatening to kill a state court judge, a defense attorney, and a state prosecutor and to sexually assault the prosecutor, according to the Vermont U.S. attorney’s office. The 35-year-old man pleaded not guilty Monday and was ordered held pending trial. He is accused of calling a Vermont Department of Corrections reporting line, saying when he was released from jail he would use violence and kill and maim those state officials as well as to harm and kill other members of the legal community, federal prosecutors said. The calls were recorded. The man was recently ordered hospitalized by the state court for mental health considerations, prosecutors said. The Federal Public Defender Office for Vermont, which is representing him, declined to comment on the charges.


Simplicity: A 69-year-old Virginia woman who went missing last week was found alive Monday in a dense pine forest less than a mile from her home, the local sheriff announced. The search for Aletha Gee Walton began May 17, when her family discovered she was missing and alerted authorities, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted online. Walton was last seen at her home in the Simplicity area two days earlier, officials said. Search-and-rescue organizations and agencies from across the state joined the search for Walton and she was found about eight-tenths of a mile from her home in a densely wooded pine forest with a thick underbrush on Monday morning, eight days after she was last seen, the sheriff’s office said. Walton was assessed by medical personnel immediately and taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Authorities did not give additional details about her condition or say why she was in the woods in the first place.


Seattle: A large black bear that evaded capture in western Washington for more than two years was trapped and killed near Issaquah last week. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said the 5-year-old bear was captured in the Squak Mountain area, where he had been seen in garbage containers, bird feeders and fruit trees dozens of times over nearly three years, The Seattle Times reported. The capture had taken on greater urgency because he was frequently seen in residential areas and was wearing a collar that had grown too tight. The state made the decision to “lethally remove” the bear because he was so overweight at 352 pounds – the normal weight for a similar-aged bear is about 200 pounds – and because of his habit of getting into human-provided food sources.

West Virginia

Charleston: Attorneys for the state and two remaining pharmaceutical manufacturers have reached a tentative $161.5 million settlement just as closing arguments were set to begin in a seven-week trial over the opioid epidemic, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Wednesday. Morrisey announced the development in court in the state’s lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., AbbVie’s Allergan and their family of companies. The judge agreed to put the trial on hold to give the parties the opportunity to reach a full settlement agreement in the upcoming weeks. No financial terms were announced. The trial started April 4. The lawsuit accused the defendants of downplaying the risks of addiction associated with opioid use while overstating the benefits. West Virginia reached a $99 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. last month over the drugmaker’s role in perpetuating the opioid crisis in the state that has long led the nation in drug overdose deaths. Before the trial started, Morrisey’s office announced the state settled part of the lawsuit involving another defendant, Endo Health Solutions, for $26 million.


Madison: All of the $2.3 million stolen from the Wisconsin Republican Party by hackers just before the 2020 presidential election has been recovered, including nearly $600,000 obtained by the FBI and given back to the party last month, the state party executive director said Tuesday. The state GOP noticed suspicious activity on Oct. 22, 2020, and contacted the FBI a day later, less than two weeks before Election Day. The party determined the money had been taken from the account it was using to help try to reelect President Donald Trump. He went on to lose Wisconsin to President Joe Biden by less than 21,000 votes. The investigation into the theft is ongoing, Wisconsin party executive director Mark Jefferson said.


Casper: An abortion clinic set to open next month in Wyoming was damaged in a fire early Wednesday that police believe was deliberately set – possibly by someone seen running away from the building carrying what appeared to be a gas can and a bag. The blaze damaged the inside of the building under renovation to house the clinic in Casper, the second-largest city in a state where opposition to abortion is widespread. The clinic, which also planned to provide other health care services for women, had been set to open in June as only the second place in the state to offer abortions. Wyoming’s other location for women to get abortions is at a hospital in Jackson, 281 miles away. Wyoming is one of 13 states with a trigger law that would immediately outlaw abortion if the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized it nationwide is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. A leaked draft of a ruling suggests that will happen soon.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States

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