You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Josh Fight 2.0, revived roses, VR rehab: News from around our 50 states

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/24/2022 From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

Alabama

Homewood: Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls made last-minute pitches to primary voters Monday in the tight race for the GOP nomination for a seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. The three leading candidates in Tuesday’s primary – U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, former Shelby aide Katie Britt and veteran Mike Durant, a businessman best known as the helicopter pilot held captive in the “Black Hawk Down” battle in Somalia – concentrated their efforts in Republican strongholds in north Alabama, attempting to sway undecided voters and combat a flurry of negative attack ads in the race. The fractured field increases the chances the primary will go to a June 21 runoff, which will be required unless a single candidate captures more than 50% of the vote. Brooks appeared at a rally in Huntsville with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he seeks to overcome ex-President Donald Trump’s harsh criticisms and decision to rescind his endorsement. Trump had initially endorsed Brooks – who had been a key champion of the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen – but Trump reversed in March, citing Brooks’ languishing performance and accused the congressman of going “woke” for saying it was time to move on from the 2020 presidential outcome and focus on upcoming elections.

Alaska

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Ketchikan: The 750-mile Race to Alaska has returned after the pandemic led to its cancellation in 2020 and 2021. The engineless boat race takes competitors from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska Public Media reports. The first-place prize of $10,000 cash is nailed to a board at the race’s end, and the runner-up wins a steak-knife set. A new documentary, “The Race to Alaska,” elevated recognition of the competition, according to Alaska Public Media.

Arizona

Tucson: The state’s second most populous city has signaled it may forgo part of its allotment of Colorado River water delivered by the Central Arizona Project aqueduct in order to help forestall a shortage declaration for Lake Mead that would trigger mandatory reductions. The Tucson City Council included its potential willingness to take 20% less CAP water in voting Thursday to direct city officials to discuss with other jurisdictions the possible of coordinated conservation agreements to keep more water in the reservoir, which has seen its level plummet due to drought. “We have a responsibility to protect our precious water resources and preserve our water supply,” the council said. “With today’s direction we are taking action to safeguard Lake Mead and Lake Powell from the threat of climate change and over-use.” Lake Mead’s surface has dropped more than 170 feet since 1983, and the lake is down to about 30% of capacity. Tucson receives about 144,000 acre feet of CAP water annually but uses only about 100,000 and has been storing the surplus underground. Several American Indian tribes and local jurisdictions, including Phoenix, have not taken their full allocations of CAP water, and Tucson previously said it would also participate if needed, KOLD-TV reports.

Arkansas

Fort Smith: Emergency officials reported an explosion early Monday caused by a fire in a grain silo. There were no injuries, police said, but traffic was being diverted and motorists advised to avoid the area.

California

Redding: Several people were injured when a bull jumped a fence and escaped an arena during a popular Northern California rodeo, authorities said. The escape occurred Friday during the final section of the Redding Rodeo’s bull riding event, the Redding Rodeo Association said on Facebook. The bull leapt over a fence, then ran through a crowd of spectators and across a parking lot before it was captured near a bridge about a half-mile from the arena. At least six people were treated for minor injuries, including 15-year-old Jordan Greco, a sophomore at Redding’s Enterprise High School. Greco said the bull’s horn’s clipped his leg as the animal charged through the arena’s VIP section. “Getting hit by a bull was an experience,” Greco said. “To be honest, I didn’t feel it at the time because my adrenaline was pumping, and I had to make split-second decisions.” At least one person was hurt near the Sundial Bridge, where the animal was finally caught, placed in a trailer and returned to its ranch, Redding police Cpl. Aaron Holleman said. “We wish the best to all those affected. The safety of our fans is our highest priority and we appreciate their support,” the Redding Rodeo Association’s statement said. The incident occurred on the third day of the four-day annual rodeo.

Colorado

Denver: Roses once planted at a site where people of Japanese descent were detained during World War II may soon bloom again. Bonnie Clark, an archaeologist with the University of Denver, and her team found the bramble crawling across the remnants of a barracks doorway at Camp Amache in 2012. It had survived a dark time in American history and the unforgiving extremes of Colorado’s southeastern plains. During World War II, the U.S. government sent some 10,000 Americans of Japanese descent to the camp near the Kansas border, formally known as the Granada Relocation Center. The land recently became a national historic site. Clark, who leads the DU Amache Research Project and Field School, said she believes people who were imprisoned at the camp planted the roses. There is no chance they were growing there before the camp was built, she said, because the land is bone-dry and was mostly uninhabited at the time. “They are living,” Clark said. “But I have never seen them bloom.” But soon that may change. Clark, eager to see the roses flourish and to share the experience with survivors and their descendants, eventually reached out to Denver Botanic Gardens. Horticulturist Mike Bone and his team traveled to Camp Amache last fall to examine the rosebush and take cuttings. They kept the clippings moist and transported them in a cooler to a special propagation greenhouse at the botanic gardens in Denver. The plants are thriving and may blossom by mid-summer, Bone said.

Connecticut

New Haven: Mayor Justin Elicker nominated a high-ranking city police official for chief Monday following a nationwide search. The mayor announced Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson was his pick to lead the department. The nomination will now go before the city’s Board of Alders. “By far the individual that was the most qualified was right here at home,” Elicker said at a news conference. Jacobson came to the New Haven Police Department 15 years ago after a nine-year career with police in East Providence, Rhode Island. He has been assistant chief in New Haven for the past three years. The nomination comes after Elicker’s first pick for chief, Renee Dominguez, was rejected by the Board of Alders after some residents criticized her for not doing enough while serving as acting chief to reduce violent crime and to diversify the department. Dominguez, who would have been the first woman to permanently lead the department, retired earlier this month after a judge ruled she must step down from the acting chief’s job because she served longer than the six months allowed under the city charter. Former Chief Otoniel Reyes retired last June.

Delaware

Newark: Tuition will increase by 3% for students at the University of Delaware for the upcoming school year. The university announced the tuition increase Friday. In real dollars, it amounts to an increase of $390 for in-state students and $1,050 for out-of-state residents. The university is not increasing its mandatory fees. As a result, full-price tuition, room and board for in-state students will be $29,644 and $52,164 for out-of-state students in the 2022-23 school year. The university said it has budgeted $168 million in undergraduate financial aid for the academic year, an increase of 86% since 2016. Nearly 19,000 undergraduates and nearly 4,300 graduate students are enrolled at the university.

District of Columbia

Washington: The city’s air quality improved early in the pandemic, and local officials hope they can keep that trend going as the coronavirus’ spread slows, WUSA-TV reports. The District Department of Energy and Environment found that ozone levels in 2020 were exceptionally low due to a reduction in traffic congestion. The department said while 2021 was close to a return to pre-pandemic conditions for ozone levels, they remained a bit lower. Kelly Crawford, associate director for the air quality division of DOEE, said if 2022 stay relatively normal in terms of the pandemic, she would expect D.C. to continue to exceed the health-based national ambient air quality standards for ozone levels. “There’s always a concern that as we return to more normal levels of traffic in the district that we’ll see increases in local air pollution,” Crawford said. “However, we are still working on those measures that reduce air pollution in the district.” Crawford said D.C. is working to get more electronic vehicles on the road while encouraging more people to use public transit or bicycles to get to work. She also pointed to the role heat plays in increasing ground ozone levels. The city is expected to have two straight days of 90+ degree heat this week, which is abnormal for mid-May.

Florida

Fort Lauderdale: The already slow slog of picking jurors in the penalty trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz hit a new stumbling block Monday when a potential juror’s T-shirt honoring those killed and traumatized in the 2018 massacre resulted in the dismissal of her entire group of 10. The 58-year-old high school teacher was wearing a T-shirt in the burgundy and silver colors of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that read: “Teacher Strong.” Below that were two hashtags that were commonly found on T-shirts and bumper stickers throughout South Florida long after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting: #msdstrong and #NeverAgain. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 people and wounding 17 others. The trial will decide whether he is sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole. The woman had been brought into the courtroom separately from the other nine potential jurors because she had written on her questionnaire that she has a medical condition that would prevent her from sitting for long stretches of time. After that was discussed, Melisa McNeill, Cruz’s lead public defender, asked her about her T-shirt and how much contact she had with the other jurors. The woman said she hadn’t talked to the others, but they had all seen her shirt. McNeill told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer the entire group should be dismissed because the shirt possibly could have been prejudiced others against Cruz. Prosecutors agreed.

Georgia

Savannah: Tybee Island’s beaches will officially become a smoke-free zone June 1. The City Council narrowly passed the smoke-free ordinance Thursday, with Mayor Shirley Sessions breaking a tie. The ban – which encompasses smoking, vaping and other tobacco-related products – applies to beaches, crossovers and the pier. Smokers are getting warnings during a grace period through the end of May. But once the ordinance goes into effect, those who are caught smoking or vaping on the beach will be fined $300. Surveillance cameras will aid code enforcement. Tybee officials say there will be designated smoking zones off the beach. Fight Dirty Tybee, a nonprofit group that regularly does beach cleanups, has pushed for a smoke-free beach since 2015 after bearing witness to the pounds of cigarette butts they’ve individually plucked off Tybee’s shores. Tim Arnold, the group’s president, said he’s relieved about the council’s decision. During tourist season, he and other volunteers can fill an entire 18-gallon bucket with cigarettes over a one-month span. Most of that is concentrated around the pier. “It’s not a little problem; it’s a massive problem,” Arnold said. “It’s a literal ashtray out there.” Fight Dirty Tybee picks up all types of litter from the beach, but a majority – nearly 70% – is smoking-related, he said.

Hawaii

Honolulu: Volunteers gathered Sunday to clean up a section of the Kalihi neighborhood that’s become an illegal dumping ground. “We have keiki that reside in this area,” Joanna Polevia, a State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers administrative assistant who organized the event, told HawaiiNewsNow. “And they walked to school through all of this.” Auiki Street had been plagued by bulky rubbish, overgrown vegetation and graffiti, according to the news outlet, but more than 100 residents, business owners, community leaders and others came out to transform the site.

Idaho

Boise: U.S. officials have released an environmental study for a proposed nuclear test reactor to be built in eastern Idaho that backers say is needed to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants. The U.S. Department of Energy earlier this month released the environmental impact statement for the Versatile Test Reactor that would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades. It would give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors. Plans call for building the reactor at the Energy Department’s 890-square-mile site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory by the end of 2026. The environmental impact statement notes that the reactor would produce spent nuclear fuel beyond 2035, going past a deadline the Energy Department has with Idaho concerning spent nuclear fuel at the site. The document states that the Energy Department would explore possible approaches with Idaho regarding that issue. Construction of the proposed reactor depends on funding from Congress.

Illinois

St. Charles: A weekend fire that damaged portions of a shuttered suburban Chicago resort took firefighters a full day to extinguish, and officials are still working to determine how it started. The fire began Saturday afternoon at the former Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky. More than 20 local fire departments, including the St. Charles Fire Department, battled the blaze before it was extinguished late Sunday afternoon. No firefighters or civilians were injured in the fire in St. Charles, a city in DuPage and Kane counties that’s about 35 miles west of downtown Chicago. The blaze was contained to the center structures of the shuttered 18-acre complex, Deputy Chief Erik Mahan with the St. Charles Police Department told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald. He said investigators are still trying to determine how the fire began, saying that “many questions are unanswered.” While the idled resort had been the target of vandals during the past year, Mahan said there is no evidence anyone had been living on the closed property before the fire began Saturday. The Pheasant Run Resort closed in March 2020 after attempts to auction the property were unsuccessful.

Indiana

A pothole is blocked from traffic on a sideroad near U.S. 31 on Indianapolis' south side on Sunday, March 15, 2020. © Elizabeth DePompei/IndyStar A pothole is blocked from traffic on a sideroad near U.S. 31 on Indianapolis' south side on Sunday, March 15, 2020.

Indianapolis: In the past five years, the city has denied the vast majority of tort claims for pothole damage. Just 84, or 3%, of the 2,600 claims the city received from 2017 through 2021 were awarded settlements, according to data provided by the Office of Corporation Counsel. The state’s tort claim law says claims that sit for more than 90 days are automatically considered denied. Year to year, the percentage of cases that get settled varies from less than 1% in 2018 to about 10% in 2017. Those settlements over five years amounted to just over $34,200, or about $400 a claim. For the city to consider itself responsible for pothole damage, the city has to have received notice of the pothole and had a “reasonable opportunity” to fix it prior to the person’s striking it, Deputy Chief Counsel Misty Mercer said. How often the 90-day rule gets invoked has varied widely in the five-year period, as has the sheer number of claims. In 2017, more than half were decided within a month, and only a sliver were left sitting more than 90 days. Things changed in 2018, when a particularly brutal freeze-thaw cycle led city Department of Public Works Director Dan Parker to call it “pothole-mageddon.” The number of tort claims jumped fivefold. All but 1% were denied. And one-fifth sat for more than 90 days. The only way to push back against the city’s denial is to sue in small claims court, and for a $200 to $400 claim, most people don’t bother, said attorney Gary Selig, whose law firm offers tort claim services.

Iowa

Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to divert about $55 million from public schools to private school scholarships will not pass in the state House because of a lack of Republican support, House Speaker Pat Grassley said Monday. Reynolds’ plan to provide taxpayer-funded scholarships for up to 10,000 students to attend the private school of their choice was one of her top priorities for the legislative session. The measure passed the state Senate in March with only Republican support but won’t clear the House, despite the GOP holding a 60-40 edge in the chamber. The opposition largely came from lawmakers in rural areas and smaller communities who were concerned about the loss of money to public schools. Reynolds targeted at least one Republican, Jon Thorup of Knoxville, by supporting his opponent in the upcoming June primary election over his opposition to her bill. “It doesn’t look like were going to be able to put the votes together in the House this year to pass that; however, we want to continue to work with the governor to get something achieved that’s been a big priority of hers moving toward next session, and we’ll work on that in the offseason,” Grassley said. He said the session likely will end this week. Adjournment has been delayed over the issue of private school scholarships.

Kansas

McPherson: A couple well-known for their philanthropy have donated $25 million to McPherson College, the largest gift in the college’s 135-year history. Melanie Lundquist announced the gift from her and husband Richard while she gave the commencement address Sunday at the private liberal arts college about 60 miles north of Wichita. The college said the gift would be used to complete a fundraising campaign started in October 2019. With the Lundquists’ gift, the campaign has raised $53 million, which will be used to build a campus commons, strengthen academic programs and support a project that enables students to graduate debt-free. Richard Lundquist owns Continental Development Corp., a property development firm based in El Segundo, California. He and his wife are noted philanthropists, with an emphasis on education and health care. The couple did not attend or graduate from McPherson. Their relationship with the college began in 2012. Previous donations to the school have included $1 million and an Enzo Ferrari 1972 365GTB/4 Daytona to its automotive restoration program. Richard Lundquist, who will become a member of McPherson’s Board of Trustees, said he and his wife hope the gift “spurs more support of well-run small liberal arts colleges in the U.S.”

Kentucky

Louisville: A police officer who was fired for threatening to kill his colleagues and supervisors in the homicide unit is asking the city Merit Board to give him his job back, saying he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Former homicide unit detective Christopher Palombi was fired March 2 for violating two department policies – obedience to rules and regulations and conduct unbecoming – after a contentious series of communications Jan. 13-14 with two officers in which he threatened a “shootout” suicide, killing all his colleagues in the homicide unit and killing four commanding officers whom he named. Palombi’s attorney, Thomas Clay, said at Thursday’s Merit Board hearing that the department wrongfully terminated Palombi because of his disability, PTSD, and blatantly ignored state and federal law that prohibits such action. Clay said during the hearing he plans to prove that Palombi suffered punishment because of his disability and he was otherwise qualified to perform the job. The board is expected to make a decision this week at the conclusion of what’s expected to be a four-day hearing. The threats stemmed from Palombi’s frustration after he was turned down for a transfer to the Office of Sexual and Physical Abuse Investigations, Lt. Donnie Burbrink, commander of the homicide unit, said Thursday.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: A three-day comment period opens Tuesday for a proposed group housing site for Hurricane Ida survivors in one southeast Louisiana parish, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday. Up to 75 families could be housed at the site in the St. Charles Parish community of Killona, the agency said in a news release. FEMA says the parish needs 79 units for residents whose houses were destroyed or are still unlivable because of damage from the hurricane that made landfall Aug. 29, 2021. Comments would be about a draft environmental assessment. Instructions for getting that document and posting comments are available on the agency’s website. FEMA says it’s a short comment period because of a housing emergency among survivors of the hurricane. Developing the proposed 13-acre site would need clearing, grading, road construction, the placement of concrete pads, utilities and installation of transportable temporary housing units. The agency notes that such group sites are generally occupied by families who lived in the area before the hurricane. That means they typically don’t increase demands for local services such as schools and police and fire protection. Once the direct housing program ends, FEMA will remove all housing units and infrastructure, returning the property as close as possible to its original state.

Maine

Passadumkeag: The small town has effectively shut down because it no longer has a town clerk, code enforcement officer, assessor or animal control officer. The Bangor Daily News reports that Christen Bouchard resigned last month from her position as town clerk in Passadumkeag, a town of about 350 residents north of Bangor. She also had been serving as deputy treasurer and was in charge of licensing pets, registering vehicles and maintaining vital records. The town office has been closed since April 21, and it’s unclear when some of the key positions might be filled.

Maryland

Baltimore: The former chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan abused his position as leader of the Maryland Environmental Service, in part by arranging for an unprecedented $233,647 severance payment, according to a legislative investigation. The investigation also said Roy McGrath collected exorbitant personal expenses and improperly hired close personal associates, The Baltimore Sun reports. Lawmakers announced the results of the investigation Friday in an 82-page report detailing McGrath’s conduct and recommending that MES seek financial restitution for money McGrath and his associate Matthew Sherring spent on activities irrelevant to their jobs. State Senate President Bill Ferguson called the report “deeply troubling on all levels.” “Mr. McGrath’s conduct and flouting of long-established rules and policies to enrich himself and loyal friends is beyond the pale of what we expect of our public servants,” Ferguson, D-Baltimore, said in a statement. House Speaker Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, said the behavior outlined in the report “dissolves the public’s trust in our entire system of government and can never be tolerated.”

Massachusetts

Boston: Two police officers who killed suspects in two unrelated shootings in 2019 acted within the law and will not face criminal prosecution, the city’s top prosecutor said Monday. The officers’ actions in both cases “were lawful and reasonable exercises of self-defense and/or defense of others,” the office of Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement. “I am deeply aware of the impact these cases have on everyone involved,” Hayden said. “Our office moved forward with all these investigations with the utmost respect for all those affected by these traumatic events. We met with the families of those killed, the officers involved and their respective departments regarding these findings in advance of releasing them to the public. These were thorough, meticulous investigations conducted with one primary goal – to gather and review all the relevant facts.” In one case, Boston Officer William Hull shot Kasim Kahrim in the city’s Roxbury neighborhood early Feb. 22, 2019, after Kahrim shot and injured Hull’s partner, Officer Mark Whelan, the prosecutor’s office said. In the other shooting, which occurred Aug. 4, 2019, in Revere, Everett Officer Alex Vieira shot and killed Oscar Ventura-Gonzales after a “dangerous high-speed” vehicle pursuit, according to the investigation.

Michigan

Detroit: A foundation connected to billionaire Dan Gilbert is investing $13 million in a fund to help low-income city residents facing eviction. The Gilbert Family Foundation said Monday that $12 million will be invested over three years in three Detroit-based organizations that will provide legal representation for renters with children. It is expected to benefit nearly 6,000 families each year. The funding will be made directly to the United Community Housing Coalition, Michigan Legal Services and Lakeshore Legal Aid, which will manage the program. They also will hire lawyers, legal supervisors and legal aids. The Gilbert Family Foundation also has allocated up to $1 million for a long-term study into the program’s effectiveness and the city’s eviction defense ecosystem. City officials recently passed an ordinance that provides renters facing eviction with legal representation in all eviction proceedings and housing-related administrative proceedings that threaten the occupancy of their homes. Dan Gilbert is founder and chair of Rocket Companies, which includes mortgage loan provider Rocket Mortgage.

Minnesota

St. Paul: State utility regulators have decided pipelines that carry carbon dioxide are hazardous and therefore subject to state approval. The decision by the Public Utilities Commission on Thursday affects two multibillion-dollar carbon dioxide pipelines proposed to cross Minnesota and carry waste from several ethanol plants in the Midwest. Commissioners interpreted a 1998 state law on pipelines that carry hazardous materials includes those transporting carbon dioxide. The decision initiates a rulemaking process that could take a year to complete. Actual approval of any CO2 pipeline could take months after that. The companies seeking to build the pipelines disagree with the commission’s decision. The Midwest Carbon Express, proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions, would run for 150 miles in Minnesota, connecting to seven ethanol plants. The Heartland Greenway, proposed by Navigator CO2 Ventures, would run for 12 miles, linking to one ethanol plant west of Fairmont. Commissioners left open a possible exemption for Navigator’s pipeline since it only goes through one county, the Star Tribune reports. CO2 is heavier than air, so if a pipeline ruptures, it can displace oxygen and potentially cause breathing difficulties, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, headaches and impaired thinking.

Mississippi

Natchez: A school district has approved a $5,000 incentive to help recruit teachers. Natchez-Adams School District will pay some teachers in areas of “critical need” a $5,000 sign-on bonus to come work for them following a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. The bonus is specific to English, mathematics and science teachers and will be issued “based on funding availability,” Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald Green said, The Natchez Democrat reports. It would be in addition to a historic teacher pay raise that legislators passed at the state level. The district’s biggest area of need is math teachers in sixth through 12th grade, Superintendent Fred Butcher said. With 16 vacancies for certified teachers, “we’re in better shape than we were this time last year,” he said. However, the Mississippi Department of Education has said the district would lose its accreditation if no changes to its staffing were made, said Cassandra Tennessee, the district’s assistant supervisor of human resources. One reason the district had been cited is that school accreditation guidelines were relaxed during the pandemic, and teachers were moved around to accommodate classroom changes to keep students safe. Consequentially, some teachers are now teaching multiple classes outside their areas of certification, Butcher said.

Missouri

Columbia: Workers at Daniel Boone Regional Library in central Missouri have voted to form a union, library officials said in a statement Monday. The new union will be the only active public library union in the state. The results showed 101 employees in favor of unionizing with 55 opposed, for 65% approval, according to the Missouri State Board of Mediation. Daniel Boone Regional Library has branches in Columbia, Fulton, Ashland and Holts Summit. Employees covered by the new DBRLWorkersUnited union will be represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Union supporters cited concerns about pay and benefits, safety and health policies, and communication with administrators as reasons they began the union effort. The next step is contract negotiations between the library and the union. No date has been set to begin that process. Margaret Conroy, executive director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, said in the release that the library’s employees job satisfaction has always been important to administrators. “We are looking forward to learning more about their specific concerns through the bargaining process,” the release said.

Montana

Billings: A hospital is using virtual reality to aid in neurological rehabilitation. Every patient at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana is expected to complete three hours of demanding therapy a day. To spice up the grueling repetitions, RHOM partnered with tech companies Penumbra and BIONIK Labs to integrate virtual reality and artificial intelligence to patient care, The Billings Gazette reports. RHOM is now the first and only facility in Montana to utilize this technology. “(Rehab) is probably the last frontier for medical robotics,” said Loren Wass, chief commercial officer with BIONIK Labs. The company produces the InMotion ARM, which uses robotics, AI and machine learning to help patients work on upper extremity rehabilitation when they have a neurological disorder such as a stroke, Wass said. The patient is seated in front of a monitor, and their forearm is strapped into the device. Guided by games on the screen, the patient grips a handle and moves their arm forward and back, challenging them to get in more reps. The AI and ML allows the device to collect data and adapt to the patient’s needs. The machine produces progress reports, makes treatment recommendations and can follow protocol driven treatments. In a conventional therapy session, the patient completes about 30 to 60 movements in an hour, while BIONIK’s InMotion ARM devices achieve 600 to 1,000 movements in the same amount of time.

Nebraska

Lincoln: A couple hundred people grabbed their pool noodles and headed to a local park again over the weekend to battle over the right to the name “Josh.” The event started as an online joke when Josh Swain, from Tucson, Arizona, sent out a tweet challenging anyone who shared his name to fight over it. After it took on a life of its own, Swain turned it into a real event last year at the random coordinates he included in his original note, which happened to be in Lincoln, Nebraska. “The enthusiasm from everybody here was just incredible,” Swain told the Lincoln Journal Star. Several of the competitors this year donned costumes, including masks, animal suits and football helmets, before heading out to Bowling Lake Park. But that wasn’t enough to dethrone 5-year-old Josh Vinson Jr., who defended his 2021 title as the No. 1 Josh. Saturday’s event raised nearly $21,000 for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, and the owners of the Josh Cellars wine label pledged to match that amount with a donation of their own. The hospital said it plans to share some of the donations with the Joshua Collinsworth Memorial Foundation that promotes water safety with its Josh the Otter mascot, who attended Saturday’s battle. Swain said he’d like to make the Josh Fight an annual event, though he’s not sure if he’ll be able to keep it up.

Nevada

Las Vegas: One of the more than 70 high schools in the Clark County School District has several examples of the kind of physical security that officials want to see districtwide as they assess safety in the wake of a string of high-profile acts of campus violence. Chris Batterman, a coordinator in the district’s office of emergency management, pointed them out on a recent walk-through with the Las Vegas Sun at Mohave High School, a campus in North Las Vegas campus home to more than 2,500 students. All visitors, such as parents picking up their kids early, are funneled through the theater entrance, which has a separate exterior door outside of the school’s main gate. There’s also a panoramic-view window, made into one-way glass by a graphic wrap, from the administrative office overlooking the quad. The courtyard is spacious, with well-trimmed landscaping – bushes aren’t full enough to hide people – and the outdoor stairwells are airy, all to reduce blind spots and allow easy flow of foot traffic. Notably, it’s the theater entrance, a few paces east of Mojave’s main gate leading to the front office – a socially distanced holdover from pandemic protocols – that makes it harder for just anybody to come onto campus, especially if they have dubious intentions. The main gate cannot be opened from the outside. Single points of entry are among many target-hardening methods school officials are reviewing and will potentially boost into the summer and beyond.

New Hampshire

Concord: Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed a bill that would have barred schools from implementing face mask mandates. The bill vetoed Friday would have prohibited school boards or other public education agencies from adopting policies requiring students or members of the public to wear face coverings. “Just because we may not like a local decision does not mean we should remove their authority,” Sununu said in his veto message. “One of the state’s foremost responsibilities is to know the limits of its power.” Though Sununu also noted that the state prides itself on promoting local control in education, schools have not had free rein when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. When state public health officials stopped recommending mask-wearing in most indoor public spaces in February, Sununu said any schools that try to maintain mask mandates would run afoul of state laws requiring that each student be provided equitable access to education. Also in February, the state enacted new rules prohibiting schools from shifting to fully remote or hybrid instruction due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

New Jersey

Moorestown: More than half a billion dollars in federal and state funds will go to nearly 30 water systems in the state, serving about 6 million residents, or about two-thirds of New Jersey’s population, officials said Friday. The combined federal and state funding of $588 million in low-interest loans will cover an array of projects. In Newark, the state’s biggest city, some $25 million will go toward lead service line replacement. In suburban Philadelphia’s Moorestown at the North Church Street Water Treatment Plant, where officials unveiled the funding Friday, about $20 million will cover new filters to remove radium and other toxins from water. And in rural Clinton, a water system is getting almost $3 million as part of a water main extension project. The announcement is the latest orchestrated this year by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s and President Joe Biden’s administrations to retool and repair crumbling infrastructure. Vice President Kamala Harris made a stop in Newark in February to highlight the city’s efforts at removing lead pipes. The funding includes $221 million from the Environmental Protection Agency under a 2014 law known as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The remainder comes from a mix of state funding and from the sale of bonds from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, a state authority that finances road, water and other projects.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: The governor has presented a long-awaited plan that would set goals for academic proficiency as the state struggles to resolve a lawsuit by frustrated parents who won a court ruling saying New Mexico is failing to provide an adequate education for the vast majority of its students. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposal released this month is meant to satisfy that 2018 court ruling and ongoing litigation to ensure adequate resources to equip students as they pursue a career or college education. New Mexico is on a long list of states where parents have turned to the court system to address frustrations with the state budget process and the quality of classroom education. The public and advocacy groups have until June 17 to comment. The plan is expected to drive immediate reforms by the state Public Education Department, as well as discussion and budget priorities in the Legislature next year. However, critics say it lacks specifics, including detailed funding plans and timelines. Native American education advocates and tribal leaders put forward their own plan in 2019. Called the “Tribal Remedy Framework,” it cites sections of the lawsuit, makes specific recommendations and suggests a specific amount of funding to carry them out.

New York

New York: The city has agreed to pay $7 million to a man who spent 23 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, Comptroller Brad Lander said Monday. Grant Williams was exonerated last July in the 1996 shooting of Shdell Lewis outside a Staten Island public housing complex. Williams, who is in his 50s, had been paroled in 2019. After being cleared last year, he filed a notice of claim, a first step toward suing the city. The comptroller’s office has the authority to settle such claims without court action and occasionally does so, including in the 2014 police chokehold death of Eric Garner. “While no amount of money can bring those years back for Mr. Williams or his family, I am pleased that we were able to move quickly to a fair and early resolution of this claim,” Lander, a Democrat, said in a statement. The case against Williams had rested largely on the testimony of a couple of eyewitnesses. One was a police officer who chased the gunman and initially gave a description that didn’t match Williams. Prosecutors at his trial also sought to suggest a connection between Williams and a baseball cap the shooter dropped at the scene, though it was never tested for DNA that could have pointed to its wearer. It was emblazoned with the logo of Wu-Tang Clan; Williams had worked at the multiplatinum-selling rap group’s Staten Island studio. No physical, forensic or digital evidence tied Williams to the crime, and some witnesses testified he wasn’t the gunman.

North Carolina

Raleigh: Republicans in the state Senate are strongly considering legislation that would expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of additional low-income adults. Such legislation would mark a key step in an extraordinary turnabout by GOP members in the chamber set against expansion for a decade. A draft bill yet to be formally filed also would include several other medical, health care coverage and insurance reforms, according to a summary of the bill obtained by the Associated Press. Many of these proposals, including expansion, have been discussed in a House-Senate health care study committee that’s met several times since February. “Senate Republicans continue to have discussions about how to address the rising costs of health care and how to increase access in the state,” Lauren Horsch, a spokesperson for Senate leader Phil Berger, said Monday. Horsch confirmed the summary’s authenticity but could not say if and when legislation would be filed during the General Assembly’s annual work session, which began last week and likely will end around July 1. The measure’s showpiece would be Medicaid expansion, which Republicans were cool to or outright against for several years after the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act authorized the coverage for people earning too much money for traditional Medicaid coverage. North Carolina is one of a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid.

North Dakota

Bismarck: A panel that regulates the state’s energy industry voted Monday to extend the deadline for proposals to build a natural gas pipeline from western North Dakota’s oil patch to the eastern part of the state. The three-member, all-Republican North Dakota Industrial Commission headed by Gov. Doug Burgum moved the deadline for proposals to Aug. 15 after no applications were received by the deadline this month. The Legislature in November set aside $150 million in federal coronavirus aid to help construct such a trans-state pipeline for natural gas, which is a byproduct of oil production. The idea, pushed by Burgum, was to help cut down on the wasteful flaring at well sites and pipe it to communities in the gas-poor eastern part of the state, hoping to spur industrial development. Despite the promised subsidies, no applications were submitted for the pipeline. WBI Energy, a subsidiary of Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group, said the project is not viable due to regulatory uncertainty, limited in-state demand and rising construction, labor and land-acquisition costs. MDU resources is North Dakota’s only Fortune 500 company. WBI Energy owns and operates more than 3,700 miles of transmission and storage pipelines in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming.

Ohio

Cincinnati: The city could soon add anti-discrimination protections for “gender expression” and for women who breastfeed in public. The city’s anti-discrimination law already has protections for transgender people. But under the proposed changes, the law specifically forbids discrimination based on “gender expression,” which is defined in the bill as how a person expresses themselves through “one’s behavior or appearance, that may or may not be those traditionally associated with the individual’s assigned sex at birth.” Businesses, employers and landlords would be among those subject to the new rules. Councilmembers Reggie Harris and Victoria Parks, both Democrats, are proposing the tweaks to the law. The City Council could vote on the measures as soon as Wednesday. “Fundamentally we are a rule-abiding society,” Harris said. “It really does make a difference when there are laws on the books that shape people and business’ behavior. So it is important the anti-discrimination code be up to date.” Harris said changes would bring city law in line with proposed federal and state equality acts, which would protect LGBTQ people against discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, government-funded programs and jury service.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: Less than one-third of the state’s voters want a ban on all abortions, and only Republicans are deeply divided on the question, according to a poll taken before the Legislature approved bills this year aimed at shutting down most abortions. The poll, taken by Amber Integrated of 500 registered Oklahoma voters in December, shows 31% would support a total ban on abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; 55% of the Oklahoma voters surveyed did not want a total ban, and another 14% were unsure. Only 14% of Democratic voters and 12% of independents said they would favor a total ban on abortion if the 1973 ruling is tossed. On the Republican side, 48% of those voters surveyed said they would support a total ban, while 40% would not. Only 29% of women and 33% of men surveyed favored a total ban on abortion. “This shows that most voters cannot simply be placed into a ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ dichotomy,” said pollster Jackson Lisle, a partner in Amber Integrated, of Oklahoma City. “Voters have a wide range of beliefs that lie between a 100% ban on abortion and allowing abortion up until the point of birth.”

Oregon

A timed entry system will be required to enter the Columbia Gorge's waterfall corridor this summer, including to places such as Multnomah Falls. © ODOT A timed entry system will be required to enter the Columbia Gorge's waterfall corridor this summer, including to places such as Multnomah Falls.

Salem: A permit system that will limit how people visit the most popular waterfall hikes in the state goes into effect this week, part of an effort to combat skyrocketing crowds and parking congestion around Oregon’s most beautiful places. The latest system requires visitors to obtain a “timed use permit” to drive into the Columbia Gorge’s waterfall corridor on the historic highway between Bridal Veil (via exit 28 from Interstate 5) and Ainsworth State Park (exit 35). The permits, which can be purchased at Recreation.gov two weeks in advance of a visit, are required between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. May 24 to Sept. 5. They’ll be required to reach popular spots such as Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls and Oneonta Trail. The permits, now on sale, provide a one-hour window for people to enter through blockades set up on both sides of the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway. “Everybody knows how big a problem traffic congestion is in this part of the Gorge, and this is a pilot program to see how well it works,” Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton said. “At the end of the summer, we’ll look at whether this is an effective tool for the long term. We know something has to be done, and this is what we’re starting with.”

Pennsylvania

Norristown: The state’s former top law enforcement officer, who served jail time for leaking secret investigative files and lying about it, admitted Monday that she violated her probation when she was arrested for drunken driving in March. Kathleen Kane, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, was sentenced to two months to a year of jail on the probation violation but was given credit for time already served and scheduled to be paroled directly to a residential treatment center for alcohol use. Kane appeared before the same judge who sentenced her in the original leak case. “I was not anticipating seeing you again, and I was hopeful we would not see you again in Montgomery County, but that’s been your choice, not mine,” Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy told Kane in court. Kane took the stand briefly and answered a series of routine questions. She did not comment outside court. Once a rising star in Pennsylvania politics, Kane resigned as attorney general after being convicted in 2016 of perjury, obstruction and other counts for leaking grand jury material to embarrass a rival prosecutor. She served eight months of a 10- to 23-month sentence before being released in 2019.

Rhode Island

Providence: The $5.3 billion sale of Narragansett Electric to PPL Corporation is moving ahead again after a Rhode Island Superior Court judge lifted a stay that had put the transaction on hold. Judge Brian Stern lifted the stay after Attorney General Peter Neronha and PPL notified the court Monday morning that they had reached a settlement to resolve an appeal lodged by Neronha’s office. The terms of the settlement had not yet been filed with the court, and Stern still has to approve the agreement. But a favorable decision is expected, allowing the case to be dismissed. Under the settlement, which was announced by PPL, the company will provide $50 million in bill credits to gas and electric customers in Rhode Island, seek approval from state regulators to forgive $43 million in bill arrearages for low-income customers, forgo recovery of the costs of transitioning Narragansett Electric to new ownership, and write off another $20 million in assets. Among other measures, the company agreed not to seek any base rate increases for at least three years after the transaction closes. PPL said it expects to close the acquisition this week.

South Carolina

Parris Island: Rising seas are encroaching on one of America’s most storied military installations, where thousands of recruits are molded into Marines each year amid the salt marshes of South Carolina’s Lowcountry region. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is particularly vulnerable to flooding, coastal erosion and other impacts of climate change, a Defense Department-funded “resiliency review” noted last month. Some scientists project that by 2099, three-quarters of the island could be underwater during high tides each day. Military authorities say they’re confident they can keep the second-oldest Marine Corps base intact, for now, through small-scale changes to existing infrastructure projects. Maj. Marc Blair, Parris Island’s environmental director, described this strategy as “the art of the small,” a phrase he attributed to the base’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. Julie Nethercot. In practice, it means such things as raising a culvert that needs to be repaired anyway, limiting development in low-lying areas and adding floodproofing measures to firing range upgrades. Others advocate much larger and more expensive solutions, such as building huge seawalls around the base, or moving Marine Corps training away from the coast altogether. Salt marsh makes up more than half of the base’s 8,000 acres, and the depot’s highest point, by the fire station, is just 13 feet above sea level. It is linked to the mainland by a single road that’s already susceptible to flooding.

South Dakota

Rapid City: Four ad agencies, all from outside the state, have been selected to collaborate on promoting its tourism industry. Karsh Hagan, Love Communications, Lou Hammond Group and Two by Four were picked after only one South Dakota agency bid for the partnership. The four out-of-state companies were selected because of what the Department of Tourism sees as new and fresh ideas to give South Dakota tourism a broader appeal, said state tourism spokeswoman Katlyn Svendsen. “When it came down to it, these folks inspired us, and they really encouraged us to think differently about our state and how consumers are looking at it, and that’s what’s important to us because we’re advertising to millions of people across the country and internationally,” Svendsen said. Robert Sharp, with Rapid City-based marketing group Sharp & Associates, told KOTA-TV it’s baffling that the state can’t find marketing talent in its own borders to promote what South Dakota has to offer. Svendsen said the new campaigns in recent years have been able to better spread the word. “Where we have gone in the last few years, we’ve taken our brand nationally, we’ve been able to place our first national TV spot in the last few years, and we’ve really continued to elevate our brand and be on the rise,” she said.

Tennessee

Cleveland: A private Christian university is considering strictly limiting the free speech rights of its students when it comes to sexuality and gender, from how they behave to what they wear and what they can say on campus or even online, according to published reports. If approved, the policy presented to faculty and staff at Lee University this month would not allow students to identify as anything other than their biological sex. They also would be forbidden from questioning these restrictions or any other university policy, according to a leaked draft. The proposal has sparked criticism from some former students, including the Affirming Alum Collective, a group of alumni from the Cleveland university, who posted on Facebook that they were “deeply saddened and frustrated by the new anti-LGBTQIA+ policies” under consideration. A university spokesperson, Kendra Mann, released a statement to WTVC-TV and the Chattanooga Times Free Press saying the policy has been in the works for years and is in line with long-standing theological beliefs. “No member of the Lee University community may publicly identify or behave as a gender that does not correspond to his or her biological sex,” the draft policy says.

Texas

Austin: Seven years after being charged with felony crimes, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has managed to avoid standing trial. The twists and turns of how the Republican – who is on the cusp of winning the GOP nomination for a third term Tuesday – has yet to have his day in court after being indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015 has little comparison in American politics. And along the way, it has upended what it means to be a compromised officeholder in Texas. Four different judges have overseen his case at some point. Where a trial would happen – if it ever does – has pingponged from Dallas to Houston to Dallas again. All the while, other clouds have gathered over Paxton: The FBI is investigating him over separate accusations of corruption, and the State Bar of Texas is weighing possible reprimands over his attempts to baselessly overturn the 2020 election. Once, nearly a year passed with no movement in the case at all. “I mean, this one is crazy,” said Andrew Wheat, a leader of the watchdog Texans for Public Justice. His group in 2014 filed a complaint with prosecutors over Paxton’s failure to register as a securities adviser, one of the criminal charges the Republican is battling. Paxton, who faces five to 99 years in prison if convicted, has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys point out that Paxton invoked his right to a speedy trial and blame the holdup on special prosecutors, who have spent years in a protracted battle over how much they’re getting paid and where the case should be tried.

Utah

St. George: Pride of Southern Utah has new leadership and new plans for southwestern Utah’s LGBTQ+ community, starting in June. The previous leaders of POSU, Katie Perkins and Lisa Wucherpfenning, stepped down and handed the role of executive director over to Micah Barrick. Barrick’s wife, Morgan, will take on the events coordinator position. However, leadership isn’t all that’s changed for the organization. Traditionally, POSU holds most of its events in September, when it has cooled down from the hottest days of summer, but doesn’t have many activities the rest of the year. Under Barrick, POSU is planning on holding monthly events throughout the year and growing the LGBTQ+ community. “We’re back in full swing,” Barrick said. “And we, you know, want to make people feel safe. St. George is growing; there’s a lot more queer people moving to town. So we want to create just more events, more visibility for them create safe spaces for them to come out and enjoy the beauty of St. George.” To welcome the leadership, POSU hosted a meet-and-greet event Sunday near Encircle, which is partnered with POSU. “I’m committed to creating more safe, inclusive events, fun events, family-friendly events for the community, just because there’s such a need for it,” Morgan Barrick said.

Vermont

Rutland: A refugee resettlement organization has proposed bringing more than 300 refugees to the city in the next three years. Amila Merdzanovic, the Vermont director of the U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, wrote in an email to the city’s Board of Aldermen last week that the organization has proposed to federal officials to resettle 75 people in Rutland in fiscal year 2023, 100 in fiscal year 2024 and 150 in fiscal year 2025, the Rutland Herald reports. The city is now home to 13 people who fled from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from there last year. Two Syrian families arrived in 2017. “They are settling in well, all are working at local manufacturing companies, learning English, and connecting with community members,” Merdzanovic wrote. “Many Rutlanders have given them a warm welcome and are helping them get settled in the community.” Gov. Phil Scott has been a strong proponent of refugee resettlement. He’s also issued a call inviting the federal government to settle Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion in the state.

Virginia

Norfolk: Dozens of graves at a city-owned cemetery are threatened by eroding shorelines on the Elizabeth River. A city review of the 44-acre site at Riverside Memorial Park found the shoreline surrounding the cemetery has been damaged by decades of dredging, nearby marine industrial activity and wind-driven waves that have undercut the riverbanks. At least 10 headstones are only feet away from steep slopes leading down to the river, The Virginian-Pilot reports. The city is seeking $1.9 million from the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund to repair 1,500 feet of shoreline. But the money in that fund comes from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, from which Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants to withdraw. A city official said it’s unclear if that funding source would be available if Virginia withdraws from the regional initiative.

Washington

Spokane: Eastern Washington University and No-Li Brewhouse will create the school’s first professional certificate program for the craft beer industry. The 15-credit program begins in the fall. No-Li Brewhouse owners John and Cindy Bryant donated $10,000 to help launch the certificate program. “It’s going to provide living wage jobs and great career opportunities,” John Bryant told The Spokesman-Review. Chris Cindric, a senior lecturer for EWU’s Department of Wellness & Movement Sciences, said the idea for a craft beer certificate program was sparked after he invited Bryant to speak at one of his classes. More than 64 breweries are located within 100 miles of Spokane, and demand is increasing for jobs in the craft beer industry, Cindric said. As breweries expand, they are looking to hire employees in production, service, distribution, human resources, event management, marketing and more, Cindric said. The state of Washington has more than 437 craft breweries, and the industry generated more than $2 billion in economic impact in 2019, according to the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colorado-based craft beer industry trade group.

West Virginia

Charleston: A celebration of the state’s mountain culture and ethnic heritage will return to its original, full-weekend format for the first time in three years. The 45nd annual Vandalia Gathering is set for Friday through Sunday on the state Capitol grounds in Charleston. The free event that includes traditional arts, music, dance and food was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and was limited last year. The festival kicks off Friday evening with an awards ceremony for quilt and wall hangings, followed by the presentation of the Vandalia Award, the state’s highest folk-life honor, along with a concert. Another concert is set for Saturday evening. Exhibitors will demonstrate their crafts and sell handmade items, including art, jewelry, pottery and candles. Several competitions are on tap Saturday and Sunday, including banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, mandolin and guitar. The festival wraps up Sunday with a Liars Contest in the Culture Center theater.

Wisconsin

Madison: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was booed and jeered at Republicans’ state convention Saturday, and more than a third of those gathered voted to oust him. Vos remains at the center of the fight within the Wisconsin Republican Party over the false claims of voter fraud successfully deployed by ex-President Donald Trump to build doubt over his legitimate election loss in 2020. But on Saturday, Vos withstood a second attempt in as many years to call for his removal – a punishment GOP activists want to level for his refusal to rescind the state’s 10 Electoral College votes cast for President Joe Biden. About 36% of convention delegates voted to approve a resolution calling for Vos to resign or be removed from his position as speaker. Forty percent supported a resolution to decertify the 2020 election, which has been deemed by legal scholars and constitutional attorneys to be impossible even as Trump continues to say otherwise. The convention resolutions are symbolic votes with no practical impact. The vote to oust Vos came hours after he had enraged much of the convention audience by declaring again that the 2020 election was over.

Wyoming

Cody: A state board has turned back a proposal to name a butte after Jackson Pollock, the famed artist born in the city, Wyofile.com reports. A Michigan-based painter who’d rendered the promontory’s likeness in a series of works discovered it had no formal name and suggested “Mount Jackson Pollock,” but the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names took back its endorsement of the proposal upon learning the butte was on private property, according to the news outlet. And the public response to the idea had been mixed in Park County, given that Pollock’s family moved away from Cody when he was just a baby.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Josh Fight 2.0, revived roses, VR rehab: News from around our 50 states

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon