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Lizzo at the Library, ‘trap’ church, medieval manuscript: News from around our 50 states

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/29/2022 From USA TODAY Network and wire reports


Mobile: State lawmakers may consider harsher penalties for traffickers and distributors of illicit fentanyl next year, but some say a comprehensive approach should also include more health services and helping drug users reduce overdoses. Republicans Reps. Matt Simpson of Daphne and Chris Pringle of Mobile told they plan bills next year to increase penalties for distributing the deadly drug that accounted for 66% of all U.S. overdose deaths in 2021. Under Simpson’s proposal, prison sentences would increase based on the weight of fentanyl distributed in Alabama. Similar laws exist in other states, but Simpson’s proposal would be among the harshest. Traffickers caught with more than 8 grams of fentanyl could face a life sentence under his plan. “This is not the run-of-the-mill old-time drugs that there used to be,” Simpson said. “It’s not the pot of the ’70s or the cocaine of the ’80s. I hate to say it, but it’s not the meth of the early 2000s. It’s highly potent and deadly.” Around Birmingham in Jefferson County, health officials report a 118% jump in fentanyl-related deaths from 2019 to 2022, though this year still has more than three months remaining. Pringle’s legislation allows a felony manslaughter charge against someone who is not a licensed pharmacist who sells an illicit pill that causes death.


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Juneau: A landslide triggered by record rainfall significantly damaged three homes, prompted the evacuation of about a dozen residents and caused power outages in the capital city’s downtown. Geological assessment teams determined Tuesday that favorable weather has returned the threat level to pre-slide levels. The city’s public works department was preparing to begin removing debris, city spokesperson Meredith Thatcher said. Of the three homes, one was completely destroyed as it came down the mountain and slammed into a second home, which was significantly damaged but remains standing, she said. The extent of damage to the third home was not yet known. Residents will be allowed to return to their homes at their own discretion. “If you feel comfortable going home, you can go home,” Thatcher said. The local power company was expected to restore service after the debris has been removed to the point where crews need to work. Damage from the Monday evening landslide was confined to the one residential street above the downtown business district in the southeast Alaska mountain community of about 32,000 residents. There were no reported injuries, city officials said.


Phoenix: A state scholarship program to train teachers doesn’t have enough money to serve all who are interested, and some universities are implementing waitlists and other cutbacks. The Arizona Teachers Academy is facing a $13 million budget shortfall, limiting its ability to produce new teachers at a time Arizona desperately needs them. The lack of funding comes even as the state sees record budget surpluses. The program has about $21 million on hand – not enough even to match last school year’s spending of nearly $25 million, the vast majority of which went to student scholarships for the more than 3,300 people enrolled. “The impact of a budget shortfall will surely reduce the number of future students who enroll in teacher-prep programs,” Carole Basile, dean of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, wrote in an email. “That’s not an outcome Arizonans want and it’s not an outcome the state of Arizona can afford.” A survey by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association found the state’s teacher shortage has deepened, with initial findings showing 66% of the surveyed districts had more teacher vacancies this year than last. The state funds tuition and fees in teacher preparation programs, and in exchange, students commit to teaching in Arizona public schools for the number of years they were funded.


Little Rock: A state senator won’t have access to Senate offices and can’t participate in legislative meetings after the chamber on Tuesday ruled he made a frivolous ethics complaint against a fellow lawmaker in retaliation for sanctions he received earlier this year. By a 26-4 vote, the majority-Republican Arizona Senate approved its ethics committee’s recommendation to suspend GOP Sen. Alan Clark for the rest of the 93rd General Assembly, which ends Jan. 8. The Senate earlier this month rejected a complaint Clark had filed against Democratic Sen. Stephanie Flowers accusing her of improperly receiving per diem payments for legislative meetings she attended via Zoom. The ethics panel ruled that Clark had filed the complaint as retaliation after the Senate stripped him and another lawmaker of their leadership posts because Clark sought reimbursement for a meeting he didn’t attend. “The committee felt that the comments and actions of Sen. Clark, including bringing these ethics petitions for the purpose of retaliation, were bringing dishonor and disruption to the institution of the Senate,” Republican Sen. Kim Hammer, who chairs the ethics committee, told senators before the vote. Clark didn’t attend Tuesday’s proceedings, citing a long-planned trip with his family and said his attorneys would not have been able to attend.


San Francisco: Homeless people and their advocates sued the city Tuesday, demanding that it stop harassing and destroying the belongings of people living on the streets with nowhere to go – and with the goal of forcing the city to spend billions of dollars on affordable homes that will keep residents housed. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and others filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the Coalition on Homelessness and seven individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Defendants include the city, several city departments and Mayor London Breed. The complaint says San Francisco “presents the image of a caring municipality” with a plan to address homelessness, but decades of inaction on affordable housing have left thousands forced to use tents and vehicles as shelter. An annual homelessness survey found 7,754 homeless people in San Francisco in 2022, with nearly 60% living unsheltered. Not only has the city failed to construct affordable housing, according to the complaint, but the city also uses heavy-handed tactics to get homeless people to move, threatening to arrest or actually arresting people, as well as taking people’s belongings in early morning encampment sweeps in which shelter is not offered, as required by law.


Greeley: A 20-year-old woman who was seriously injured when the parked police patrol vehicle in which she was detained was struck by a freight train in northern Colorado has been released from the hospital. Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, of Greeley, is recovering at home with nine broken ribs, a broken arm, a fractured sternum, and numerous other injuries to her head and back, her attorney, Paul Wilkinson, told KUSA-TV. “She is bedridden. She can move around a little bit. She also has a fractured leg that she wasn’t initially aware of,” he said. “She’s still really, really hurt.” Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a report of a road rage incident involving a firearm in Fort Lupton on Sept. 16. A Platteville police officer stopped Rios-Gonzalez’s car just past a set of railroad tracks and parked the patrol vehicle on the crossing. She was placed in the back of the police vehicle, which was hit as officers were searching her car. Police bodycam and dashcam video shows officers scrambling as the train approaches and slams into the patrol vehicle, parked squarely on the tracks. One officer repeatedly says, “Oh my God.” And another yells, “Stay back,” as the train’s horn blares before the crash. Video shows officers running toward the mangled, crushed vehicle through what appears to be a debris field left by the impact. No one has been charged in the alleged road rage incident or the crash.


New Haven: Lawyers for Randy Cox, a Black man who was paralyzed from the chest down in June when a police van without seat belts braked suddenly, filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against the city. Cox, 36, was being driven to a police station in the city June 19 for processing on a weapons charge when the driver braked hard, apparently to avoid a collision, causing Cox to fly headfirst into the wall of the van, police said. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Cox’s legal team is still in talks with the city but filed a federal negligence lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court to make sure Cox is compensated for his suffering. “If we say we respect life and respect Randy Cox’s life experiences and people like Randy Cox, similarly situated, then we have to show that by action, not just by rhetoric,” Crump said. In the lawsuit, the city and the officers involved in Cox’s transport are accused of negligence, recklessness, use of excessive force, denial of medical treatment and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Cox’s supporters say the police mocked his cries for help after he was injured and accused him of being drunk and faking his injuries. Police video shows the officers dragged him by his feet from the van and placed him in a holding cell at the police department before paramedics finally took him to a hospital.


Wilmington: Most people incarcerated in the state hail from Wilmington, Dover and Seaford, a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative found. Prison gerrymandering – the practice of counting incarcerated people as residents of the prison rather than their last home in the census – was outlawed in Delaware in 2010. That move allowed think tanks to determine where most of the people in the state’s prisons are actually from. The calculations are based on data from the 2020 census and information provided by prisons about the majority of their population. The findings paint a grim but not unexpected picture: People incarcerated in Delaware often come from cities with higher poverty rates and more Black residents. Wilmington has the highest incarceration rate of any city in Delaware, according to the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative. Over 1% of residents are incarcerated, and with the largest population in the state, the think tank has given Wilmington the “dubious distinction” of having the most people actually incarcerated in addition to the highest rate. Excluding towns, Seaford has the second-highest incarceration rate in the state – 748 people behind bars per 100,000 residents. It’s followed by Dover, which had 680 people incarcerated per 100,000 residents as of 2020.

District of Columbia

Washington: Singer and flutist Lizzo paid a special visit to the Library of Congress on Monday while on tour in D.C., WUSA-TV reports. The performer gave Tuesday’s audience at her Capitol One Arena show quite the treat,when she surprised everyone by performing on a historical 200-year-old crystal flute. According to the Library of Congress, a French fluter made the ornate instrument in 1813 specifically for President James Madison in honor of his second inauguration. The iconic moment started with a simple social media exchange. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden tweeted an invitation for Lizzo to visit the world’s largest flute collection, housed at the D.C. institution. After making a stop at the library to tour the collection and practice on a few instruments, Lizzo’s dream became reality when she got the chance to play the historic flute on stage Tuesday night. Handlers brought the flute onstage to Lizzo, who carefully accepted the historical instrument and carried it to a microphone. She played relatively few notes – adding a few of her signature moves – then returned the flute and ran back to her mic. “I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from the 1800s.” she shouted. “We just made history tonight!” Lizzo thanked the Library of Congress for “preserving our history and making history freaking cool.”


St. Petersburg: The polluted leftovers of the state’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, more than 1 billion tons in “stacks” that resemble enormous ponds, are at risk for leaks or other contamination as Hurricane Ian comes ashore in the state, environmental groups say. Florida has 24 such phosphogypsum stacks, most of them concentrated in mining areas in the central part of the state. About 30 million tons of this slightly radioactive waste are generated every year, according to the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute. “A major storm event like the one we are bracing for can inundate the facilities with more water than the open-air ponds can handle,” Ragan Whitlock, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group, said in an email Tuesday. “We are extremely concerned about the potential impacts Hurricane Ian may have on phosphate facilities around the state.” A leak in March 2021 at a stack called Piney Point resulted in the release of an estimated 215 million gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay and caused massive fish kills. State officials, overseen by a court-appointed receiver, are working with a $100 million appropriation to shut down that long-troubled location.


Atlanta: The state ran a surplus of more than $6 billion in the budget year that ended June 30, meaning the next governor and lawmakers could spend or give back billions. The State Accounting Office, in a Friday report, said Georgia ran a $6.37 billion surplus even after spending $28.6 billion in state taxes and fees in the 2022 budget year. Total state general fund receipts rose a whopping 22%. Even after filling its rainy day fund to the legal maximum, Georgia has $6.58 billion in “unreserved, undesignated” surplus – cash that leaders can spend however they want. Some money is already spoken for, with the state likely to transfer more than $1 billion to pay for roads, bridges and other transportation projects. That would make up for the state’s decision in March to waive its gasoline tax of 29.1 cents per gallon and its diesel tax of 32.6 cents per gallon. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has repeatedly extended the tax breaks since then, a move lawmakers must ratify when they return in January. Kemp, running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams, has designs on an additional $2 billion of the surplus, pledging to give another $1 billion in state income tax rebates, plus spending $1 billion to renew a long-dormant property tax break for homeowners.


Honolulu: The Hawaii Department of Health said Tuesday it has fined the U.S. Navy $8.8 million for repeatedly discharging untreated or partially treated sewage into state waters from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The department said in a news release that it recorded 766 counts of the Navy discharging pollutants in excess of limits established by a permit. The pollutants were released between January 2020 and July 2022 from the Hawaii Wastewater Treatment Pant operated by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the department said. The agency also found 212 counts of operation and maintenance failures. “The Navy’s failure to properly operate and maintain this wastewater treatment plant led to the pollution of state waters,” said Kathleen Ho, the department’s deputy director of environmental health, in a statement. “We are taking action to protect our state’s water resources and to hold the Navy accountable to make critical repairs and prevent a potential catastrophic failure of the facility.” Navy Region Hawaii said the Navy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed in June 2021 to address deficiencies with the treatment plant. The Navy is on track to meet these obligations, which may also address some of the issues pointed out by Hawaii’s Department of Health, it said.


Boise: Embattled Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee has resigned at the request of the Mayor Lauren McLean. The city’s announcement came Friday afternoon after KTVB reported last week that nine officers had filed complaints against Lee and after an investigation into an allegation that he injured a high-ranking officer during a training demonstration last year. Sgt. Kirk Rush has said Lee broke parts of his neck during the demonstration, which required surgery to repair. Clearwater Prosecutor Clayne Tyler late last month told officials that while he felt there was probable cause to support charging Lee with felony battery, he wasn’t sure he could prove the crime in court. Lee’s attorney Chuck Peterson said earlier this year that Rush’s claims were “completely untrue.” McLean told the Idaho Statesman on Friday that she was having “conversations about management” and examining Lee’s role within the department. Boise City spokesperson Maria Weeg told KTVB: “It became clear to the mayor the department needed different leadership.” Lee’s resignation will take effect Oct. 14, but he will be placed on leave until then, city officials said in a statement. McLean has appointed retired officer Ron Winegar as acting chief.


Chicago: Police filed eight felony counts Tuesday against a man who climbed five stories of a fire escape to infiltrate a police facility while officers were undergoing a SWAT training exercise. Donald Patrick, 47, of Waukegan, was charged with five counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and three counts of burglary in the attack Monday at the facility in Homan Square on Chicago’s West Side. He’s due in bond court Wednesday. It wasn’t clear whether Patrick had an attorney who might comment on the charges. Patrick grabbed at least two guns before he was shot and wounded by an officer, police said. Patrick was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police Superintendent David Brown said the suspect was seen on video climbing the fire escape to the fifth floor, where a door had been propped open for ventilation because there are no windows. Brown said investigators believe the man grabbed at least two guns from a table and pointed them at officers. He said the guns did not contain live ammunition – they were either empty or contained munitions, such as pellets that are used for training exercises. Pellets sting but do not cause serious injury or death.


Indianapolis: A federal judge has barred the state from enforcing a 2016 law’s provisions that require abortion clinics to either bury or cremate fetal remains, finding that they violate the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the law’s requirements infringe on the religious and free speech rights of people who do not believe aborted fetuses deserve the same treatment as deceased people. “The Constitution prohibits ‘mechanisms, overt or disguised, designed to persecute or oppress a religion or its practices.’ The fetal disposition requirements are contrary to that principle,” Young wrote in Monday’s decision, which granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs who had sued the state. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a defendant in the lawsuit, said Tuesday that his office will appeal the ruling. The lawsuit was filed in 2020 on behalf of the Women’s Med Group abortion clinic in Indianapolis, its owner, two nurse practitioners who work at the clinic and three women who are each listed only as Jane Doe. Shortly after the law was signed in 2016 by then-Gov. Mike Pence, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the ACLU of Indiana sued the state over the law.


Des Moines: A federal judge has struck down the third attempt by the Iowa Legislature to stop animal welfare groups from secretly filming livestock abuse, finding once again that the law passed last year violates free speech rights in the U.S. Constitution. The decision Monday rejected the law approved by state lawmakers in April 2021 that makes it a crime to trespass on a property to place a camera to record or transmit images. The law, which had support from Republicans and some Democrats, made the first offense punishable by up to two years in prison and subsequent offenses a felony. The case is one of many so-called ag-gag laws that have surfaced in the U.S. in recent years that pit the right of farmers to protect their property from trespassers against animal welfare advocates. Farmers argue intruders could track in disease and want to unfairly portray their livestock practices, while animal welfare groups say producers don’t want the public to see how farm animals are treated. The lawsuit was filed in federal court Aug. 10, 2021, by animal rights groups the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Bailing Out Benji. They were joined by environmental and grassroots advocacy groups Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.


Topeka: The Sunflower State is defending its honor after a big-city mayor claimed that “Kansas doesn’t have a brand.” New York Mayor Eric Adams said his city has a brand that’s recognizable around the world, unlike Kansas. “We have a brand,” he said. “New York has a brand. And when people see it, it means something. When we go there, it’s not ... Kansas doesn’t have a brand.” But Kansans took to social media Tuesday to challenge his assertion. For one, many noted, Superman – whose motto was “truth, justice and the American way” – didn’t grow up in New York City or even his adopted hometown, Metropolis, but in the also-fictional Smallville, Kansas. And the Plains state gets far more recognition these days in sports than its coastal counterpart. The New York Jets and Giants both posted 22-59 records (points for consistency) from 2017 to 2021. Basketball hasn’t been particularly relevant in New York since the 1970s. Right now, the Kansas and Kansas State football programs are making more national headlines than the Jets and Giants. The Jayhawks are off to their first 4-0 start in more than a decade, and the Wildcats just upset the No. 6 team in the country on the road. In April, Kansas basketball won its fourth NCAA championship in school history. Famous Kansans include Jason Sudeikis, Paul Rudd, Annette Benning, Janelle Monáe, Melissa Etheridge and Elvira, to name a few. Another common retort was that Kansas has created a brand identity through its association with “The Wizard of Oz,” in which a tornado leaves farm girl Dorothy Gale in the magical land of Oz, only to find that she most wants simply to go home.


Louisville: Despite multiple lawsuits, expensive reviews and community outrage, the city’s police continue to pull over and search Black drivers at disproportionate rates. Since 2020, Black people have made up 33% of Louisville Metro Police Department traffic stops with a citation and 53% of searches while accounting for about 20% of the population 18 and older, an analysis of city data found. The disparities are consistent with previous analyses and independent reviews conducted since at least 2000. And as officials await results from a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the department, some community members say they’re proof LMPD’s self-imposed changes aren’t working. The mayor and police chief “did a city tour touting their reforms and their new policies, but that’s all theory,” said Khalilah Collins, a project manager for the DOVE Delegates pilot, which dispatches “community responders” trained in crisis intervention to some 911 calls. “The numbers aren’t changing and/or are getting worse.” Some law experts were reluctant to say the data indicates racial bias without knowing more information about why the stops happened and what their outcomes were. Still, LMPD officials acknowledge enforcement disparities exist and said the department is “making a serious investment into personnel and technology” that will allow it to better scrutinize traffic stops.


Baton Rouge: As the state continues to be plagued by a spiraling insurance crisis, with insurers leaving the state and canceling homeowner policies as thousands of claims remain unpaid following a series of hurricanes, Gov. John Bel Edwards will travel to London this week to meet with a leading insurance underwriter. During the economic development trip, the Democratic governor’s sixth international trip, Edwards will also meet with high-ranking executives of major energy companies, including Shell, to discuss the company’s expanding portfolio of clean energy investments. On Sunday he will attend the New Orleans Saints game, which is being played in London as part of the NFL’s annual International Series. “I am excited to be able to capitalize on this opportunity to represent Louisiana’s economic and cultural interests on the world stage,” Edwards said in a press release Tuesday. “Few states are more directly impacted by the insurance underwriting and energy markets than Louisiana, which is why it’s so important to maintain an open dialogue with global leaders in those sectors.” Following a series of damaging hurricanes in 2020 and 2021 – Delta, Laura, Zeta and Ida – more than 610,000 residential property claims were filed in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Department of Insurance data.


Portland: A bargain hunter who went to an estate sale in Maine to find a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf or vintage clothing walked away with a 700-year-old treasure. Instead of a kitchen appliance, Will Sideri stumbled upon a framed document hanging on a wall. It had elaborate script in Latin, with musical notes and gold flourishes. A sticker said 1285 AD. Based on what he’d seen in a manuscripts class at Colby College, the document looked downright medieval – and a bargain at $75. Academics confirmed the parchment was from The Beauvais Missal, used in the Beauvais Cathedral in France, and dated to the late 13th century. It was used about 700 years ago in Roman Catholic worship, they said. An expert on manuscripts said the document, first reported by the Maine Monitor, could be worth as much as $10,000. After spying the unusual manuscript, Sideri contacted his former Colby College professor, who was familiar with it because there’s another page in the college collection. The professor reached out to another academic who’d researched the document. They quickly confirmed the authenticity. The parchment was part of a prayer book and priests’ liturgy, said Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America and a professor of manuscript studies at Simmons University in Boston. The full missal was once owned by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher, before being sold in the 1940s and, much to the consternation of today’s academics, divvied up into individual pages, she said.


Hagerstown: A woman who said she was left to give birth to her baby alone on the dirty, concrete floor of her jail cell last year filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging jail nurses ignored her screams and pleas for help for six hours. Jazmin Valentine alleges some nurses working for the jail’s contracted medical provider, PrimeCare Medical Inc., said she was withdrawing from drugs, not in labor, and some jail staffers and medical staff laughed at her, saying she was just trying to get out of her cell late at night in July 2021 at the Washington County jail in Hagerstown. Valentine claims she punched the walls of her solitary confinement cell, which did not have blankets or sheets, during her most painful contractions and removed what she believed was her baby’s amniotic sac, sliding it under her cell door to prove she was about to have a baby. A fellow inmate, hearing her pleas, called Valentine’s boyfriend, who called the jail pleading with staffers to help her, the lawsuit said. The nurses also ignored a concern raised by a jail deputy about Valentine, but he did not contact any superiors, the lawsuit said. He discovered Valentine holding the baby girl in her cell about 15 minutes after she was born, and an ambulance was called to take them to the hospital, according to the lawsuit. Because of the unsanitary conditions in the cell, the baby developed a type of staph bacteria infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, the lawsuit said. Valentine, who had never given birth before, said she feared her baby would die, and she might bleed out.


Boston: Federal workplace safety regulators have proposed fining a subcontractor nearly $1.2 million in connection with the death of a worker during the demolition of a downtown Boston parking garage. The worker was operating an 11,000-pound excavator in the Government Center Garage on March 26 when an upper floor gave way, and he fell 80 feet to his death, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement Tuesday. It was his first day on the job. The worker has previously been identified as Peter Monsini, 51, of Easton. An investigation found that JDC Demolition Co. Inc. violated the demolition plan by placing heavy equipment on partially demolished floor bays, OSHA said. JDC also failed to adequately train its workers on the demolition plan and safety management systems, OSHA said. In total, JDC was cited for 11 alleged violations. “JDC Demolition Company Inc. knew the heavy equipment on the partially demolished floors were over the weight limits and still allowed a worker, unaware of the hazards, to do demolition work,” OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton said in a statement.


The sewer tunnel walk-through at the Belle Isle Nature Center transforms the main hallway entrance into a sewer tunnel inviting guests to explore how animals use city infrastructure. The center reopened to the public Wednesday after being closed for more than two years. © Provided by the Belle Isle Nature Center The sewer tunnel walk-through at the Belle Isle Nature Center transforms the main hallway entrance into a sewer tunnel inviting guests to explore how animals use city infrastructure. The center reopened to the public Wednesday after being closed for more than two years.

Detroit: The Belle Isle Nature Center reopened Wednesday – with a $2.5 million makeover – after being closed since March 2020. Located on 5 acres at the northeastern tip of Belle Isle State Park, the Belle Isle Nature Center boasts educational, environmental and natural experiences that help connect visitors with urban nature. Highlights of the upgraded facility include an expanded mudpuppy habitat, a replica Detroit sewer tunnel and a pollinator area that allows guests to see how bumblebees experience their world. “We are so proud of this new facility, and after more than two years of being closed, we are ready to show everyone what we have been working on,” Amy Greene, nature centers director for the Detroit Zoological Society, said in a news release. “We have so many new and exciting features for guests to explore.” The new experiences are designed to give visitors the opportunity to connect with nature while also learning how to celebrate and save wildlife and wild places found in their own backyards and communities. “The Belle Isle Nature Center is truly unique,” Greene said. “We’ve completely reimagined a new nature center that puts the focus on urban wildlife. Our intention is to reinforce the connections people have and the spaces they share with the nature that surrounds us.”


St. Paul: Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has $3.2 million in cash on hand heading into the final weeks of the campaign, while Republican challenger Scott Jensen has $916,000 left in the bank. The Jensen campaign said it raised $1.8 million in the two-month reporting before Tuesday’s filing deadline to bring its total for the campaign cycle to $4.2 million. The campaign said in a statement Wednesday that it was a new record for a Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate, beating the $3.3 million that then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised for his 2006 campaign. The Walz campaign said it raised $1.73 million in the same period, which ended Sept. 20, for a grand total for the election cycle of $4.4 million. In other statewide races, Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison’s campaign reported it had $923,000 in cash on hand after raising $996,000 since Jan. 1. GOP candidate Jim Schultz reported raising $775,000 this year and had $321,000 left. Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon had $967,000 in cash on hand after raising $799,000 this year, while Republican challenger Kim Crockett had $119,000 left after collecting $286,000.


Jackson: Years before residents were left without running water for weeks, Gov. Tate Reeves claimed to have helped block money to fund water system repairs in the capital city. Reeves, a Republican, blames Jackson’s water crisis on mismanagement at the city level. The city’s latest water troubles are far from its first, stemming from decaying infrastructure beyond one water treatment plant. The EPA said 300 boil-water notices have been issued over the past two years in the city. As Reeves climbed Mississippi’s political ladder, he cited his opposition to financially helping the capital as evidence of his fiscal conservatism. Jackson-area lawmakers say the troubled water system is one example of Jackson’s status as a political punching bag for Republican officials, who control the Legislature and the state Bond Commission. “We operate under the golden rule here,” said Democratic Sen. John Horhn of Jackson. “And the golden rule is: He who has the gold makes the rules.” In Jackson, 80% of residents are Black, and 25% live in poverty. Repeated breakdowns made it unsafe for people to drink from their tap, brush their teeth and wash their dishes without boiling the water first. At a September news conference, Reeves said water service was restored to most of the city only after the state “stepped in” to provide emergency repairs.


Stockton: A judge on Tuesday allowed a Christian boarding school to remain open for now, scheduling two days of hearings in October to determine its fate after multiple current and former students alleged widespread abuse. Cedar County Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Pyle’s ruling came a day after he took over the case involving Agape Boarding School in Stockton. The Missouri attorney general’s office had asked Pyle to close the school after requesting the new judge for the case previously presided over by Cedar County Circuit Judge David Munton. The state didn’t say why it sought a new judge. Pyle also approved the state’s request to again place Missouri Department of Social Services workers at Agape. On Monday, Munton lifted the order allowing state workers at the school. They had been there to monitor for abuse since Sept. 8. Two days of hearings to determine Agape’s fate are scheduled for Oct. 13-14. Agape’s attorney, John Schultz, said he was pleased with the judge’s decision allowing Agape to continue operating. “The students at Agape are not facing immediate harm as the State argued,” Schultz said in a statement. “We monitor the students 24/7 and will continue to do so with the DSS workers returning.”


Great Falls: The public has been warned to stay out of the Missouri River during a rare Rainbow Reservoir drawdown. This week, the bed of the river in Great Falls will lie more exposed than it has in years. The sight above and below Rainbow Dam will be compelling, revealing riverbed features that are only rarely seen – as well as significant dangers. NorthWestern Energy and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement last week that the utility would start drawing down the reservoir Sunday to replace leaky boards on the dam. According to NorthWestern Energy spokesperson Jo Dee Black, the 11-feet river drawdown will last approximately five days, and the reservoir upstream from Rainbow Dam is expected to back to full pool by Oct. 6. The public safety concern is not that some unwitting hiker might get swept away by a sudden release of water but rather that the exposed riverbed is unstable, slick and potentially dangerous. “When the river is drawn down there’s islands, things you can see in the river that you don’t see when the reservoir is at full pool,” Black said. “However, we want to caution people not to go onto the exposed riverbed. There will be deep mud and slippery rocks. Just because the river’s lower doesn’t mean that its safe to go out onto it.”


Champion: A semitrailer collided with a school bus in southwestern Nebraska, injuring eleven children and the two drivers, officials said. The crash happened about 4 p.m. Tuesday on a rural highway near Champion when a bus dropping off children from school turned left in front of a semi loaded with grain, a news release from the Chase County Sheriff’s Office said. The grain truck hit the rear passenger side of the bus, causing the bus to spin and tip on its side, officials said. The truck was forced off the road and into a ditch. Eleven children ages 6 to 15 were on the bus, and all were taken to the Chase County hospital “with a wide range of injuries,” investigators said. Three of the children were later taken to regional trauma centers, the sheriff’s office said. The bus driver was a 39-year-old man from Champion, officials said, and the truck driver was a 20-year-old man from Venango. Both were taken to the Chase County hospital.


Las Vegas: Authorities were searching Tuesday for a 42-year-old convicted bombmaker who escaped from a prison where he was serving a life sentence for a deadly 2007 explosion outside a Las Vegas Strip resort. Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered an investigation into the incident after he said late Tuesday that his office learned the escapee had been missing from the medium-security prison since early in the weekend. “This is unacceptable,” Sisolak said in a statement. Officials didn’t realize until Tuesday morning that Porfirio Duarte-Herrera was missing during a head count at Southern Desert Correctional Center near Las Vegas. A state Department of Corrections statement said search teams were looking for him. Duarte-Herrera, from Nicaragua, was convicted in 2010 of killing a hot dog stand vendor using a motion-activated bomb in a coffee cup atop a car parked at the Luxor hotel-casino. Records show his co-defendant, Omar Rueda-Denvers, remained in custody Tuesday. The 47-year-old from Guatemala is serving a life sentence at a different Nevada prison for murder, attempted murder, explosives and other charges. A Clark County District Court jury spared both men from the death penalty in the slaying of Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, whom prosecutors identified as the boyfriend of Rueda-Denvers’ ex-girlfriend.

New Hampshire

Manchester: A 100-year-old woman who left high school to care for her brother during the Great Depression has been awarded an honorary diploma. Josephine Sad left Central High School in Manchester to take care of her younger brother while both of their parents worked. She later joined the Women’s Army Corps and served during World War II. Sad’s friend, Terry Seavey, shared her story with Mayor Joyce Craig, and a surprise award ceremony was held Tuesday. “When the mayor reached out, we were immediately on board,” said Jennifer Gillis, Manchester School District superintendent. “Mrs. Sad’s service to her family, community and country in times of need is inspiring.” According to Gillis, Sad shared her secret to a long life: “Never slow down.”

New Jersey

Trenton: A grand jury has indicted 14 corrections officers on charges stemming from what authorities said was a brutal attack in 2021 on inmates at the state’s only prison for women. The grand jury handed up the indictments after a more than yearlong investigation into the events at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, in the community of Clinton, Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin’s office said late Tuesday. Attorneys for the guards charged have said previously that they planned to fight the allegations in court. The charges include charges conspiracy, official misconduct, tampering with public records and aggravated assault, Platkin said. The indictments are the latest development in a state criminal probe that resulted in significant fallout, including the departure of the state’s corrections commissioner and Gov. Phil Murphy’s declaration that he will close the prison. A picture of what happened in January 2021 at the prison has emerged, based on accounts from law enforcement, videos released by authorities showing extractions of prisoners from their cells, and a report commissioned by the governor. One video clip, for example, showed five prison guards wearing helmets and chest, back and shoulder armor filing into a woman’s cell and punching her in the head. “Stop punching me in my face!” the woman calls out.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: New state data shows New Mexico’s repeat rate for child abuse is among the worst in the country, a newspaper reports. The Albuquerque Journal said more than 40% of children in New Mexico who had a substantiated serious injury from physical abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2022 came from families who had a prior involvement with the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department in the preceding 12 months. A report by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee said the Families Department “continues to underperform on targets for repeat maltreatment, maltreatment of foster care children, and serious injuries after protective services involvement,” and the state’s rates for repeat maltreatment “are among the worst in the nation.” Barbara Vigil, a retired New Mexico Supreme Court judge who became the Families Department’s secretary nearly a year ago, told the Journal that the agency is “incredibly proud of the ongoing improvements that are being made in our child welfare system … but we acknowledge that improvements must continue to be made.” Vigil said a key to reducing child maltreatment rates is strengthening the Families Department’s workforce including hiring and retaining employees.

New York

Albany: Some historical battle reenactors are holding their musket fire because of worries about the state’s new gun rules – an unplanned side effect of a law designed to protect the public’s safety. The law that went into effect this month declares parks, government property and a long list of other “sensitive” places off limits to guns. The rules were geared more toward semi-automatic pistols than flintlock weapons, but reenactors who fear being arrested if they publicly restage battles from the Colonial era to the Civil War are staying off the field. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration insists that historical battle reenactments are still OK, and some have still taken place this month. But persistent skepticism among event organizers and participants has resulted in some cancellations, like an 18th-century encampment and battle reenactment planned for last weekend north of Saratoga Springs. “We’ve been getting reports from units that were supposed to attend that they don’t feel comfortable transporting muskets or bringing muskets to the site,” said Harold Nicholson, a reenactor involved in the event at Rogers Island. “And so at that point, we decided that it was probably best not to (go ahead).”

North Carolina

Raleigh: The head of a national political action committee working to elect women who support abortion rights visited the state Tuesday, joining candidates she says must win this fall to block Republican attempts to enact more restrictions. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also stood beside EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler while warning the ability of women to control reproductive health choices at current standards will depend on General Assembly races. “I have seen in states across this country abortion under attack,” Butler said at a news conference outside state Democratic Party headquarters. “That’s why here in North Carolina, we know that these legislative races … are all difference makers in protecting abortion rights and protecting essential health care options for all women in this great state.” Republicans could earn veto-proof majorities if they win two more state Senate seats and three more state House seats, making it difficult for Cooper to derail abortion legislation with his veto stamp. The GOP-controlled Legislature hasn’t overridden any of Cooper’s nearly 50 vetoes since Democratic seat gains during the 2018 election took effect. “In North Carolina, women still have reproductive freedom,” Cooper said. “And as governor, I aim to keep it that way. But I cannot do it alone.”

North Dakota

Fargo: A one-of-a-kind construction and research project is using hemp in an effort to make healthier homes. Two small houses going up on the back half of a lot just off a busy street not far from downtown Fargo “are identical in blueprint – they’re 13 by 23, with 12-foot ceilings; there’s a loft in each of them,” said Grassroots Development president Justin Berg, the man behind the project. One of the houses is built with a traditional wood frame, with fiberglass insulation covered with a commonly seen shiny white house-wrap material. A second house a few feet away also has a wood frame, but the walls are filled with 12 inches of hempcrete, giving it a brown, textured look inside and out. The raw material, called hurd, is the inner, woody core of the hemp plant, chipped into small pieces. The hurd is mixed with a lime binder and water. “And we hand-packed, physically hand-packed, this entire house,” said Grassroots Development sustainability consultant Sydney Glup. They’re being guided through the process by Bismarck-based Homeland Hempcrete. These homes might become short-term rentals, but the primary purpose is research. “We’re just trying to get that concrete nonbiased research to contribute to the industry so we can troubleshoot and figure out how to do better,” Glup said. “We want it to be so that anybody who wants a healthier dwelling can afford it.”


Columbus: A judge extended a temporary block Tuesday on a state law banning virtually all abortions for an additional 14 days, further pausing a law that had taken effect after federal abortion protections were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The decision by Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins means pregnancy terminations through 20 weeks’ gestation may continue in Ohio through Oct. 12. Jenkins issued his first 14-day pause Sept. 14 in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Ohio on behalf of the state’s remaining abortion providers, finding their lawsuit was “substantially likely to prevail on the merits.” The action argues that the abortion ban violates protections in the state constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equal protection. It also says the law is unconstitutionally vague. The law signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April 2019 prohibits most abortions after the first detectable “fetal heartbeat.” Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many people know they’re pregnant. The law had been blocked through a legal challenge, then went into effect after the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned. Jenkins has scheduled the next hearing in the case for Oct. 7.


Oklahoma City: The University of Oklahoma Medical Center confirmed Wednesday that it is planning to stop offering some gender-affirming medical treatments after state lawmakers threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal funding earmarked for the University Hospitals Authority. The Republican-controlled Legislature, which returned for a special session Wednesday to appropriate $1.87 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, has already targeted transgender young people with new laws that restrict their ability to play sports or use school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many Republican-led states, labeled child abuse and subject to criminalizing bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations. “The OU Health Senior Leadership team is proactively planning the ceasing of certain gender medicine services across our facilities and that plan is already under development,” OU Health said in a statement. A spokeswoman for OU Health declined to say which services the center was planning to stop offering.


Portland: A renewable energy plant being commissioned Wednesday that combines solar power, wind power and massive batteries to store the energy generated there is the first utility-scale plant of its kind in North America. The project, which will generate enough electricity to power a small city at maximum output, addresses a key challenge facing the utility industry as the U.S. transitions away from fossil fuels and increasingly turns to solar and wind farms for power. Wind and solar are clean sources of power, but utilities have been forced to fill in gaps when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining with fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. At the Oregon plant, massive lithium batteries will store up to 120 megawatt-hours of power generated by the 300-megawatt wind farms and 50-megawatt solar farm so it can be released to the electric grid on demand. At maximum output, the facility will produce more than half of the power that was generated by Oregon’s last coal plant, which was demolished earlier this month. On-site battery storage isn’t new, and interest in solar-plus-battery projects in particular has soared in the U.S. in recent years due to robust tax credits and incentives and the falling price of batteries. The Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility in Oregon, however, is the first in the U.S. to combine integrated wind, solar and battery storage at such a large scale in one location, giving it even more flexibility to generate continuous output without relying on fossil fuels to fill in the gaps.


West Mifflin: A western Pennsylvania amusement park announced new security measures Wednesday following a shooting that wounded three people, including two teenagers. Kennywood Park officials said the measures would include more police, more security along perimeter fences, limits on bag sizes and masks covering faces, and required adult chaperones for all juveniles at all times during the park’s Phantom Fall Fest, scheduled to run until mid-October. Park officials declined to discuss the investigation into the shooting shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday that followed an altercation between two groups of teenagers near the Musik Express ride at the park in West Mifflin, southeast of Pittsburgh. A male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a dark-colored mask was being sought. Park officials said Wednesday that they have doubled the number of police hired for each night of Phantom Fall Fest and will require adult chaperones at least 21 years old for everyone under 17 who enters the park at any time during the event. Chaperones had previously been required only after 4 p.m. Officials said they have cut down trees along the perimeter fence to improve visibility and are installing new floodlights and security cameras that will completely cover the fence line, also vowing to “significantly” increase security patrols.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state is ramping up investments in clean transportation as consumers take advantage of rebates for electric cars and the state expands the network of charging stations. In the first two months of the reinstated DRIVE EV program, which offers incentives of up to $4,500 to buy electric vehicles, the state Office of Energy Resources has approved 54 applications. Interest has risen since the July 7 launch date of the program that provides funding for both new and used cars, particularly since passage last month of climate legislation in Congress that will expand a federal tax rebate for EVs. “It picked up in August, and we’ve been very busy this month as well with applications,” said Sara Canabarro, administrator of clean transportation for the energy office. The work to green the transportation sector is key to meeting the state’s climate goals. Transportation accounts for 35% of Rhode Island’s greenhouse gas emissions. If the state is to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, as required with the passage last year of the Act on Climate, it will require a big investment in electric cars.

South Carolina

Dayna Lee, owner of Comal 864, poses for a portrait in front of the pink trap church owned by Rob Rallis, on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Lee, as a business owner in the neighborhood, is upset by what Rallis has done to the former Bible Way Full Gospel Missionary Baptist Church and the possibility of it becoming expensive apartments. © MCKENZIE LANGE/ Staff Dayna Lee, owner of Comal 864, poses for a portrait in front of the pink trap church owned by Rob Rallis, on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Lee, as a business owner in the neighborhood, is upset by what Rallis has done to the former Bible Way Full Gospel Missionary Baptist Church and the possibility of it becoming expensive apartments.

Greenville: A church that was painted pink with the word “Trap” written above it by a real estate developer is listed for sale for $2.5 million, leaving some locals feeling betrayed and angry. The former Bibleway Full Gospel Missionary Baptist Church property, sold for $425,000 in April, is now listed on LoopNet as available for “redevelopment in booming West Greenville.” The listing came after developer Ron Rallis heard concerns from residents about gentrification. Now neighbors of the property fear that’s exactly what would be spurred by the sale Rallis seeks. On July 30, he held an impromptu “community forum” where he addressed his painting of the closed church, as well as personal concerns he’s made public on social media, podcasts and media outlets about claims that he was falsely accused and arrested for two felonies. In a video posted on Instagram on Aug. 4, he expressed willingness to work with neighbors in his efforts to redevelop the property but included a statement that struck a nerve with some: “Daddy is here to make money.” Restaurant owner Dayna Lee said that statement “made it very clear to me that not only did I waste a lot of time ever giving him the benefit of the doubt, he turned a historically Black church into an eyesore because he doesn’t care.” She believes Rallis used the forums “as tools to deceive everyone that attended. He wasted their time and never was committed to being anything more than a publicity stunt in the first place.”

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem made a campaign promise Wednesday to repeal the state’s tax on groceries, changing course to lend outspoken support to a bipartisan proposal she did not publicly endorse in March. The Republican governor made the announcement two days ahead of a Friday debate with Democratic challenger Jamie Smith, a state lawmaker who pushed the repeal of the 4.5% tax on groceries for years and helped broker a bipartisan vote to pass it in the House this year. Noem billed the campaign promise Wednesday as “the largest tax cut in South Dakota’s history,” saying it would push $100 million “directly to families to help them with their budget.” But Smith said the campaign promise was “just another example of Gov. Noem trying to manipulate the voters of South Dakota by proposing a policy she clearly didn’t believe in and is doing it for her political gains at this moment.” A spokesman for Noem’s campaign, Ian Fury, said Noem had privately voiced support for the grocery tax cut bill to Senate leadership during budget negotiations. At the time, Republican state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, one of the most powerful lawmakers in the chamber, had said the House proposal was dead on arrival in the Senate. He said in a text message that he remains opposed to the tax cut. Schoenbeck also told The Dakota Scout that Noem, even in a private conversation in March, was “adamantly opposed” to the House proposal.


Memphis: A man already charged with a fatal shooting that police said set off a daylong crime rampage now faces murder charges in two more killings, officials said Wednesday. Ezekiel Kelly, 19, was indicted Tuesday on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Richard Clark and Allison Parker, the Shelby County district attorney’s office said. Kelly already has been charged with fatally shooting Dewayne Tunstall in the head outside a home in east Memphis. At least three witnesses saw Kelly shoot Tunstall about 1 a.m. Sept. 7, according to a police affidavit. Clark and Parker were shot later that day, as Kelly was driving around Memphis, livestreaming some of his activities and leading officers on a citywide manhunt, police said. Police said three other people were wounded in the shootings. The indictment also charges Kelly with attempted first-degree murder and more than 20 other charges, including reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, commission of an act of terrorism, theft of property and evading arrest. The shootings had police warning Memphians to shelter in place, locking down a baseball stadium and university campuses and suspending public bus services. Kelly was arrested after crashing a stolen car while fleeing police.


Houston: A Jewish death row inmate who was part of a gang of prisoners who fatally shot a police officer in 2000 after they had escaped is one step closer to getting a new trial after prosecutors agreed with defense claims that the judge who presided over his case held antisemitic views. Lawyers for Randy Halprin have contended that former Judge Vickers Cunningham in Dallas used racial slurs and antisemitic language to refer to the inmate and some of his co-defendants. Halprin, 45, was among the inmates, known as the “Texas 7,” who escaped from a South Texas prison in December 2000 and then committed numerous robberies, including the one in which they shot 29-year-old Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins 11 times, killing him. During a three-day hearing in August in Dallas, several witnesses, including Cunningham’s brother and two lifelong family friends, testified that the former judge had frequently used antisemitic and racial slurs before and after Halprin’s 2003 trial in reference to him and several of the other escaped inmates. One witness testified when Cunningham ran for district attorney in 2005, she heard him say he was running for office to save Dallas County from Latinos, Black and Jewish people, but using racial slurs to refer to these groups of individuals, according to court documents.


Salt Lake City: Utahns often rate among the friendliest and most polite in state-by-state rankings, but there is a glaring exception on Beehive State roadways, according to a new survey. Utah motorists rank as the worst in the U.S. when it comes to road rage, according to nationwide survey work published last week by Forbes Advisor, a consumer services advice company based in New Jersey. More than half of Utah residents surveyed said they had been on the receiving end of a rude or offensive gesture while driving, including a highest-in-the-nation 76% who said they had been the target of a honk. Utah drivers were also the second most likely to say they had been tailgated (73%). About 27% said they knew someone who had been injured due to a road rage incident. The survey was conducted with more than 5,000 U.S. car owners last month, including at least 100 in every state, according to Forbes Advisor, which commissioned the survey work from the research company OnePoll. The companies said the margin of error was plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, with a confidence interval of 95%. “Overall, 85% of drivers surveyed said they’ve experienced at least one form of road rage,” according to the authors. “Some instances, like frustrated honking, may be fairly innocuous, but other forms can have far more severe consequences.”


Brattleboro: Three police officers will not face charges in the fatal shooting of a person of interest in a suspected homicide who charged at two of the officers with a knife, the offices of the state attorney general’s office and a county prosecutor announced Tuesday. A Brattleboro police officer and two Vermont State Police detective sergeants on July 19 were pursuing Matthew Davis, who was a person of interest in the death of his ex-girlfriend, a Massachusetts woman who was found dead in her truck in Brattleboro with a suspected gunshot wound earlier that day. Family members had reported her missing, and foul play was suspected on the part of Davis, who had a criminal history including assault to kill, according to the attorney general and county prosecutor’s office. One of the officers had spotted Davis walking on a Brattleboro road, but he fled. The three officers then found him in culvert under a bridge, which he fled, refusing orders to stop. Officers confronted him in nearby woods. One officer yelled that Davis had a knife. They ordered him 10 times to drop the knife, but he refused, according to the release. After one officer asked Davis, “Why did you kill her?” he then ran out from behind a tree with the knife and charged downhill toward two officers, they said. All three officers fired their weapons.


Petersburg: A new documentary explores the history of a hospital founded in Richmond in 1870 as the world’s first mental institution for Black people, in a state that had also established the first state mental hospital in the nation in 1773. When the American Psychiatric Association celebrated its 175th anniversary three years ago in San Francisco, it featured photographs of two Virginia mental institutions that contributed to its birth – what are now Eastern State and Western State hospitals. Former Virginia Mental Health Commissioner King Davis, a featured speaker, was struck by the absence of another state mental institution, now known as Central State Hospital, near Petersburg. “They had no idea,” Davis said, even though the association awarded him its coveted Benjamin Rush Award for his work to preserve and digitize more than 800,000 records and 36,000 photographs documenting a century of the hospital’s past. During a recent reception, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation saluted the archives project by showing the documentary, “Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane,” and giving tours of an exhibition of documents from the archives. The film was written, directed and produced by Virginia Commonwealth University professor Shawn Utsey.


Skykomish: A section of U.S. Highway 2 is again closed because of the Bolt Creek Fire burning near the roadway. Three miles of the highway were closed Monday night, and officials extended the closure to 4 miles Tuesday morning, KING 5 News reports. On Tuesday, U.S. 2 was closed between Northeast Old Cascade Highway and 747th Avenue Northeast in Skykomish, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The department tweeted a video showing crews working in smoky conditions cutting down burnt trees near the roadway. The fire burning since Sept. 10 has grown to an estimated 17.7 square miles. Some evacuation orders remained in effect. A 13-mile stretch of U.S. 2 had reopened Saturday after a fire-related, weeks­long closure. Officials said hot and dry conditions Monday slightly increased fire behavior, which resulted in more wildfire smoke in the area. Air quality in western Washington was moderate with some areas experiencing short spikes of air quality that was unhealthy for sensitive groups, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said.

West Virginia

Morgantown: A new children’s hospital at West Virginia University is finally opening. Officials held a ribbon-cutting Saturday in Morgantown for the new WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital. The 150-bed, $215 million facility will open Thursday. Plans to build the hospital were announced in 2017 due to rising demand for primary and specialty services for children and women. Officials say the existing children’s facility’s four care units were operating at an average daily capacity above 70%, with just one or two beds available at some times. Officials say the new hospital includes a significantly larger care team, a pediatric emergency department, the state’s only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and a spa-like birthing center.


Madison: Complaints against nursing homes continue to pile up and could surpass a record number filed last year as the state struggles to find enough nurses and nursing home inspectors. State officials have contracted with two private companies – Healthcare Management Solutions and Long Term Care Institute, Inc. – to help inspect nursing homes that have complaints against them. The rise in complaints comes as the nursing home industry continues to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which in some cases has left facilities without enough staff to properly care for residents. Approximately two out of every five nursing homes in Wisconsin reported a shortage of nurses earlier this month, worse than during the height of the pandemic, according to data submitted by the facilities to the federal government. Wisconsin has received more than 1,500 complaints against nursing homes so far this year, or about 190 new complaints each month, according to numbers from the state Department of Health Services. The state last year received an average of 165 per month, for a total of 1,984 complaints.


Casper: The Biden administration has finally responded to the state’s plan for a federally funded network of electric vehicle chargers, but few of the exemptions Wyoming officials requested were granted, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. States have access to money from a bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden, but the federal government required that the charging stations be no farther than 50 miles apart and no more than a mile away from highway exits. The program envisions expanding the range of electric vehicles by building up the infrastructure to support them, removing disincentivizes to adoption for people who live in or travel to more rural areas. Wyoming had sought exceptions to the distance requirements in some less-populated areas, but the administration only approved a few, according to the newspaper. It told state officials they had given “insufficient justification” for leaving longer spans of highway unserved by chargers and denied the request for a new station being built farther from Interstate 80 to count toward the network.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lizzo at the Library, ‘trap’ church, medieval manuscript: News from around our 50 states



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