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Weeding robots, goat lottery, liquor shortage: News from around our 50 states

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/12/2021 From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

Alabama

Montgomery: A state agency said Friday that it will work with private organizations to encourage more elderly and disabled people to get vaccines for COVID-19, which is on the rise as the state’s inoculation rate trails the nation. With Alabama ahead of only Mississippi in vaccinations and just 30% of the state’s population fully inoculated against the illness caused by the coronavirus, the Alabama Department of Senior Services said a new marketing campaign was aimed at overcoming vaccine hesitancy. The agency will work with local agencies for the aging and disability organizations to encourage more people to get shots. A telephone hotline will allow people to reach local services and make vaccination appointments, which has been difficult for some disabled people. Vaccination rates have dropped statewide to the lowest point since early this year, when doses were scarce, and only certain people were eligible to receive shots. While less than a third of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, precautions like face masks and social distancing are increasingly rare in the state. Meanwhile, hospitalizations are rising in a trend that is troubling to health experts. State statistics showed 252 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals Thursday compared to a low of 166 late last month.

Alaska

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Juneau: A state court judge is scheduled to hear arguments Monday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a voter-approved initiative that would end party primaries in Alaska and institute ranked-choice voting in general elections. Scott Kohlhaas, who unsuccessfully ran for a state House seat last year as a Libertarian; Bob Bird, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party; Bird’s party; and Anchorage attorney Kenneth P. Jacobus sued in December, shortly after the initiative was approved. In court documents, they say people “exercise their right of free political association by forming political parties for the purpose of electing candidates” and advancing issues and principles. They call the new voter-approved system a “political experiment” and say it was designed in a way to harm political parties. They cite concerns that candidates for minor parties, like the Alaskan Independence Party, could get “lost in the shuffle” in a primary where all candidates are listed on one ballot and the top four vote-getters advance to the general election. Attorneys for the state Department of Law in court documents say the plaintiffs’ opposition includes a mix of policy arguments and speculation. They say the claims raised by the plaintiffs “rest on a misunderstanding” of what the initiative does, according to court filings.

Arizona

Phoenix: Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed legislation banning state or local governments from requiring training in “critical race theory” and a bill creating a new small-business income tax category that will allow small-business owners to avoid paying any of the 3.5% income tax surcharge voters approved in November. The new small-business tax is expected to cut $292 million from the original $836 million schools would have received under Proposition 208, according to the Legislature’s budget analysts. Backers of the initiative have vowed to block the new law by referring it to the ballot. Ducey also signed a measure that tightens the state’s sex education law and requires parents to give permission for instruction that includes sexual issues in non-sex ed classes. The broad requirement would block discussions of historic events that have a sexual component, like the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, considered the genesis of the modern gay rights movement, or even the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, without parental preapproval. “Parents should have the right to know what their children are learning in school,” Ducey said in a statement. “This is a no-brainer piece of legislation that protects our children from learning materials that aren’t suited for them.”

Arkansas

Little Rock: Arkansas State Police on Friday handed over to prosecutors the results of the agency’s investigation into a deputy’s fatal shooting of a white teenager that has drawn the attention of civil rights activists nationwide. Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said his office received the case file on the shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain by Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Michael Davis during a June 23 traffic stop. Graham said the file has been taken to the state prosecutor coordinator since he’s requested a special prosecutor to handle the case. Authorities have released few details about the shooting, and State Police earlier Friday referred questions about the case file to Graham’s office. Brittain’s family has said the teenager was unarmed and holding a jug of antifreeze at the time of the shooting. Prosecutor Coordinator Bob McMahan said a special prosecutor should be named early this week. Davis was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley last week for not turning on his body camera until after the shooting occurred. Staley said there’s no footage from the shooting, only the aftermath. The Rev. Al Sharpton and two attorneys who represented George Floyd said the teen’s death highlighted the need for interracial support for efforts to reform police practices.

California

Burbank: Batman’s secret cave, Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs and the apartment from “Friends” are major centerpieces to the huge Warner Bros. studio lot expansion. Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood recently reopened more than a year after doors were shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, attendees will have a chance to explore the studio’s nearly 100 years of television and filmmaking history, highlighting the DC Universe and “Harry Potter.” A firsthand look took place a couple of days before the tour opened in late June at the Southern California studio, which now welcomes families with children ages 5 and older. Warner Bros. officials said the expansion – which includes a new building – took five years to develop in Burbank. Officials say the studio tour will follow all city, state and federal COVID-19 safety protocols. “One of the most incredible things about Warner Brothers is the incredible history of epic films that are legendary,” said “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, who helped reopen the tour.

Colorado

Durango: A 10-year-old died of plague in La Plata County, San Juan Basin Public Health said Friday. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and health officials said they are investigating the case and will provide more information as it becomes available, 9News reports. No other information on the child was immediately released. “We are so sad for the loss of this young Coloradan, and our deepest condolences go to the family,” said Dr. Jennifer House of the health department. “Public Health is doing an epidemiological investigation and wants Coloradans to know that while this disease is very rare, it does occur sometimes and to seek medical care if you have symptoms.” Officials say plague is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to humans by the bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected animals. The risk of contracting certain animal-borne diseases, while present year-round, increases during the summer when humans and animals are frequently in close contact. Most human plague cases are acquired directly from fleas. Officials say it’s important to wear repellent when outdoors and keep up to date on pet vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says symptoms of the plague include fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes.

Connecticut

Hartford: State employee union leaders are suing to stop Gov. Ned Lamont’s order to have workers return to the office now that much of the state has emerged from the pandemic, accusing him of violating prior telework agreements reached with the unions and ignoring the benefits of having people work from home. The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which filed the request for an injunction in Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday, said in a statement that state workers proved throughout the COVID-19 crisis that a flexible teleworking agreement could be beneficial to the state of Connecticut. “From increased productivity and quality performance to the positive environmental impacts like reduced emissions, improved air quality and public health, the benefits of telework are clear and something that the Administration should be taking a proud step in leading,” SEBAC said in a statement posted on its website. In May, Lamont sent an email to state employees announcing that they would be returning to their offices as of July 1 and that any telework would be limited to no more than 50% of their time, with manager approval.

Delaware

a group of people riding skis on a snowy surface: The team searching for the USS Nina was using an autonomous underwater vehicle to perform side-scan sonar and camera mapping of the site. © Photo courtesy of the University of Delaware The team searching for the USS Nina was using an autonomous underwater vehicle to perform side-scan sonar and camera mapping of the site.

Lewes: More than 111 years after it sank off the Delmarva coast and 43 years after divers found and looted it, researchers can finally – and officially – say where the USS Nina is located and why the U.S. Navy steamer built in the 1860s likely sank. The University of Delaware is a big reason why. A two-day mission out of Lewes led by UD oceanographer Dr. Arthur Trembanis in mid-June used the school’s new autonomous underwater vehicle to help identify the sunken ship. The university has been partnering with the Navy for nearly a decade, and Trembanis’ group has been mapping the seafloor for years. The drone used during the mission has a shape similar to a small torpedo. Trembanis needed to test the new equipment and said the “stars aligned” nicely for this mission since Dr. Jim Delgado, senior vice president of SEARCH Inc., a cultural resource management firm, had been talking about a mission to officially identify the Nina. Using UD’s technology, the mission did in hours what divers and researchers may have needed days or weeks to do. “We’re really privileged at UD to have one of the most largest and advanced fleets of autonomous systems in the country,” Trembanis said. A violent February storm appears the likely culprit for the ship’s loss.

District of Columbia

Washington: With more homicides so far in 2021 than by this same time in 2020 and carjacking incidents skyrocketing, the police department is trying to get a handle on the crimes by getting back to the basics of community policing. D.C. police officers in the 4th District have been hitting the streets, knocking on doors and starting conversations with people in the community, WUSA-TV reports. “This is an opportunity for folks to really give us some feedback – let us know what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong,” Inspector James Madison Boteler said. The work officers are doing is part of an initiative called “100 blocks in 100 days.” “It’s really just a get-back-to-the-basics kind of police work,” he said. Boteler, who is in a newly appointed position with the 4th Police District, is teaming up with officers covering parts of Northwest and Northeast to build better relationships with neighbors. “The amount of folks that live in the city versus the amount of crime that we respond to on a daily basis is ever-increasing,” Boteler said. To help fight that crime and the growing number of homicides year after year in the district, Chief Robert Contee selected a handful of inspectors to serve as second-in-command for larger police districts.

Florida

St. Petersburg: Red tide could cause people along certain parts of the Gulf Coast to experience respiratory irritation, health officials said. The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County on Sunday recommended that anyone with chronic respiratory problems consider staying away from areas experiencing red tide, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Officials also advised people not to swim around dead fish and to keep pets away from water, sea foam and dead marine life. The National Weather Service in Tampa issued a beach hazards statement Saturday evening cautioning that red tide can cause coughing, sneezing and tears in the eyes and that symptoms can be worse for people with asthma, emphysema or other chronic lung diseases. Red tide is an algae bloom producing toxins that kill fish. The toxins may also make the surrounding air difficult to breathe and often turn the water red. Those with allergies also can be affected, National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Close told the newspaper. “And just the smell, dead fish smell,” he said. St. Petersburg crews cleaned up 9 tons of dead fish in 24 hours last week, the paper reports. During a news conference Friday, St. Petersburg Emergency Manager Amber Boulding said red tide blooms killed the fish, and Tropical Storm Elsa pushed them ashore.

Georgia

Atlanta: The Biden administration’s decision to reevaluate Georgia’s plan to overhaul how residents buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act came as a “surprise” and suggests it wants to revisit the plan’s approval, which is not allowed, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said. The “Georgia Access” plan would improve the experience of shopping for insurance and encourage the private sector to enroll uninsured residents, the director of Kemp’s Office of Health Strategy and Coordination said in a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Despite unsubstantiated claims to the contrary, Georgia Access will put more affordable, quality insurance coverage within reach of consumers in our state than a one-size-fits-all federal solution,” said the letter by Grant Thomas. Under the Republican governor’s plan, residents would bypass healthcare.gov and shop for federally subsidized health insurance through private agents. Critics worry the move will make it harder to shop for insurance and drive healthy people to cheaper plans that provide limited coverage, increasing premiums for older and sicker people who need the comprehensive benefits required by the ACA because the move to private websites would make it easier for consumers to simultaneously see plans that don’t provide all the benefits required by the federal health care law.

Hawaii

Honolulu: To protect historic lands from invasive goats, officials will distribute the live animals to the public via a lottery. Hawaii officials will hold the lottery as a way to remove at least 700 goats from Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, which is an important cultural and historical site on the west side of the Big Island, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Those interested in the goats may apply for permits, which will be issued through a random lottery July 28. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will distribute 20 to 50 goats per permit. Applicants must indicate how many goats they want and can’t choose individual animals. Lottery winners must have a 16-foot enclosed horse trailer or equivalent to pick up the goats so that they don’t escape. A permit can be refused if a trailer isn’t secured.

Idaho

Boise: Gov. Brad Little on Friday mobilized the Idaho National Guard to help fight wildfires amid an ongoing drought and extreme heat. The Republican governor issued an emergency declaration allowing soldiers to help fight fires on the 9,700 square miles in mostly northern Idaho where the state provides fire protection. “Wildfire is presenting an imminent threat to life, property, and the environment, and we need all hands on deck,” Little said in a statement. “I appreciate our firefighters and fire managers for working so hard under such challenging conditions, and I am grateful that our guardsmen are able to step in once again to support Idaho communities.” It’s the first time the Idaho Department of Lands has requested the governor issue such an emergency declaration. The agency said the soldiers will help with fire suppression and logistics support. State officials didn’t say how many soldiers might be deployed to help with wildfires. Officials also said National Guard Blackhawk helicopters could be used to drop water or other suppressants on fires as well as transport firefighters and supplies. Besides tapping the National Guard, the Lands Department has also requested workers in the agency with fire line qualifications to make themselves available for fire assignments.

Illinois

Springfield: Visitors to this year’s Illinois State Fair will be able to visit one of the nation’s more historic highways with the creation of the Route 66 Experience. The multiyear project will turn the Springfield fairgrounds’ Gate 2 into a year-round destination for visiting a microform of the Mother Road in Illinois, from Chicago to the Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River in Madison. It will highlight communities and attractions along the way. The project sponsor, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, will have the first phase completed by the state fair’s opening Aug. 12, executive director Casey Wichmann said. “Being able to provide visitors a central location to experience what our historic road has to offer is an amazing opportunity prior to the 100th anniversary of Route 66,” Wichmann said. The 2,448-mile highway, one of the nation’s first interstate “hard roads,” was begun 95 years ago. Dubbed the “Mother Road” by John Steinbeck in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” it runs from Chicago’s Loop business district to Santa Monica, California. Its path through Illinois is similar to that of current-day Interstate 55. Once running, the exhibit will feature Quick Response codes and story boards detailing historic attractions and businesses. Those communities lining Route 66 will be invited to participate.

Indiana

Bunker Hill: Six inmates are alleging in lawsuits that they were kept in near-total darkness for weeks at a time and suffered electric shocks from exposed wires at a state prison. The lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana claim the conditions at the maximum-security Miami Correctional Facility near Peru amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The lawsuits claim that the six men were held in isolation cells that had no lights and that some of them suffered cuts from broken window glass and were shocked by dangling wires from a broken light fixture while trying to make their way around in the dark. ACLU of Indiana attorney Ken Falk called the prison’s action “torture.” Inmate Jeremy Blanchard’s lawsuit filed in March said he was kept in nearly total darkness for about a month last year, and the conditions led to hallucinations and severe anxiety. Attorneys for the state have denied the allegations and asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The other five lawsuits were filed this month. A Department of Correction spokeswoman declined to comment on those cases.

Iowa

Ventura: The road running between a marsh wildlife area and Clear Lake in this small northern Iowa city is dangerous for turtles, even with a turtle crossing sign. So five boys have spent some time this summer helping the turtles cross it. On one recent summer day, they spent several hours assisting turtles, saving 20 to 30 from being flattened by motorists, and they reckon they’ve saved close to 200 overall, the Mason City Globe Gazette reports. “One time, I saw a pile of flattened turtles and two baby turtles – their parents must’ve died – so that motivated me to save other turtles,” said 10-year-old Zacaious Moe. Four friends have joined Zacaious in the turtle rescuing: Keygan Hoover, 9; Blake Meyer, 8; Cole Meyer, 10; and Casen Wenzel, 8. “That’s such a neat thing for them to spend their day doing that,” said Ventura City Administrator Else Taylor. Taylor said the turtle crossing sign and a geese crossing sign have been up for several years. “We have had issues with geese and turtles getting run over in large amounts,” she said. “I walk my dog by some of these places, and there are turtle pancakes.”

Kansas

Cheney: A central Kansas farmer has invented robots that can whack weeds and reduce the use of pesticides on crops. For years, Clint Brauer has struggled with keeping weeds out of his row crops. Along with keeping living roots in the ground, organic practices and no-till methods, he tried crimping, but the pigweeds just grew taller. Three years ago, Brauer, an ex-California-based executive who farms in Haven and Cheney, decided to implement a wild plan, using robots to behead weeds. “I realized there was no great way to get the weeds out at scale without chemicals,” Brauer said. “I needed to invent one.” So he started Greenfield Robotics. Before chemicals replaced them, workers pulled weeds from the farm. Greenfield Robotics puts the “workers” back in the field with a new kind of worker – a mechanized one. “We want to control weeds with labor and make it robot labor,” Brauer said. “Robotics is our way of putting (mechanized) labor back into the farm.” The challenge was that he felt regenerative farming did not work for large fields without the heavy use of agrichemicals. “I came up with the idea for it and tested it manually,” he said. “No one knew if it would work. It has to fit between rows.” Brauer uses the weeding bots on other farmers’ soybean crops in the area and hopes to work with sorghum, cotton and possibly canola farmers.

Kentucky

Frankfort: The state Capitol is open again for visitors, but some fresh security regulations are in place. The new rules include measures detailing the types of masks allowed in the Capitol and prohibiting visitors from congregating in office entrances but still allow people to carry any gun of their choosing, with certain restrictions on ammunition and how they are secured. Gov. Andy Beshear said the emergency Capitol security measures were needed following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building and forced the evacuation of members from both chambers. He also cited “a rise in domestic terror around the country.” Armed protesters have been a common sight outside the Capitol since the onset of the pandemic and even after the Jan. 6 insurrection, with the president of the Kentucky Three Percenters notably hanging the governor in effigy at one protest. About a dozen masked men wearing camouflage and carrying rifles posed for photos in the Capitol Rotunda in early 2020 – the same day as a large protest against a proposed “red flag” gun law – near the governor’s office, while the House and Senate were in session. Visitors won’t be allowed to wear their own face mask in the Capitol but will be given one by security as they enter.

Louisiana

Lake Charles: The state’s newest food trail has the quirky name No Man’s Land: Gas Station Eats. No Man’s Land was one of the names for a buffer zone between U.S. and Spanish territories for about 13 years after the Louisiana Purchase. The Gas Station Eats food trail is starting with three stops in each of seven southwest Louisiana parishes, The American Press reports. The 450-mile route runs through Calcasieu, Allen, Beauregard, Sabine, Natchitoches, Vernon and DeSoto parishes. Stops range from the South Beau Dairy Barn in the Beauregard Parish community of Longville to French Market Express, which offers meat pies, plate lunches, yam cakes, cookies and pies in Natchitoches. There’s also an Exxon station in Natchitoches, Big Thicket BBQ in DeRidder, a Shop-A-Lott in Mansfield and another in Many, Anacoco Mercantile, and a Grab N Geaux in Lake Charles. Several stops offer fried boudin balls and whole sausages such as boudin and andouille. Others have fried fish, burgers, sandwiches – and, in Zwolle, tamales. All are in the seven-parish area known as No Man’s Land and the Neutral Strip from about 1806 until a treaty in 1819 established the Sabine River as the boundary between the United States and what later became the state of Texas.

Maine

Bangor: The state is nearly tripling the number of acoustic shark detectors in coastal waters a year after its first fatal shark attack. The Maine Department of Marine Resources deployed eight acoustic receivers in coastal waters a year ago between Wells and Popham Beach, raising the number of sensors to 11. This summer, the state has deployed 32 acoustic receivers between York and Boothbay Harbor, said agency spokesperson Jeff Nichols. The sensors don’t provide real-time data. They must be brought to shore for the data to be downloaded to determine if they detected sharks that were previously tagged with transmitters by researchers, the Bangor Daily News reports. The extra sensors come a year a fatal attack in Harpswell. Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City, was killed by a great white shark while swimming. It was Maine’s first fatal shark attack and the third fatal shark attack in New England. An increasing presence of large sharks in New England waters is tied to a growing number of seals.

Maryland

Towson: Mobile crisis teams in Baltimore County respond to fewer than half of calls to help people having mental health crises. But The Baltimore Sun reports that a pilot program funded by a $1.6 million federal grant aims to add more behavioral health professionals and set up a system to redirect some 911 calls from police to behavioral health resources. Of 4,319 calls for service since September, crisis teams have responded to 1,844, according to police data. When teams aren’t available – about 57% of the time – requests for aid are rerouted to officers, according to Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “We have a significant capacity limitation,” Hyatt told lawmakers during a state Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health briefing earlier this year. There are 20 part-time and full-time clinicians and 12 officers with 40 hours of crisis intervention training in the county of nearly 830,000 residents. Next month, officials begin planning the program’s rollout, police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said. The program was announced just weeks before a May rampage in which a man set his Woodlawn home on fire and killed three neighbors before police killed him. Police said crisis teams had previous interactions with him but didn’t disclose more details.

Massachusetts

Plymouth: Archaeologists combing a hill near Plymouth Rock where a park will be built in tribute to the Pilgrims and their Native American predecessors have made a poignant discovery: It’s not the first time the site has been used as a memorial. David Landon of the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Fiske Center for Archaeological Research said his team unearthed a cache of personal items he thinks were buried there in the late 1800s, most likely by a brokenhearted settler who had outlived all three of her children. Landon said the objects – eyeglasses, clothing, sewing implements, a pocket watch and a book – gave him chills because they turned up during final excavations of Cole’s Hill, a National Historic Landmark site in Plymouth where Remembrance Park is set to be constructed. “Someone clearly used that space in that fashion in the past to memorialize members of their family,” said Landon, whose team spent the past month scouring the waterfront site where the Pilgrims are said to have come ashore in 1620. Remembrance Park originally was conceived to mark 2020’s 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s 1620 arrival, the founding of Plymouth Colony and the settlers’ historic interactions with the indigenous Wampanoag people. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, idling events as well as construction.

Michigan

Detroit: Massive amounts of green are being spent to find green ways to prevent basements, yards, streets and freeways in the city from flooding during heavy storms like one last month. Of $100 million pumped each year into infrastructure upgrades for the city’s aging water and sewer systems, $10 million goes toward installing detention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavement. Called green stormwater infrastructure, the features hold and slowly release rainfall into sewers, lessening flooding that has plagued Detroit and other older cities for decades. “It’s not the end-all-be-all, but it is a type of intervention that reduces wet weather flows into the system or delays them,” said Palencia Mobley, deputy director and chief engineer for Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department. City officials say 6 inches of rain that poured down in the area June 25-26 was the most at one time in 80 years. As with a funnel beneath a swiftly flowing faucet, the volume of water moved faster than it could be pumped out or pushed through sewers to water treatment plants. Water pooled in streets and yards as debris clogged sewer grates. Untreated water pushed up through basement drains. Motorists were stranded on freeways. New vehicles in one auto plant lot were nearly submerged.

Minnesota

Minneapolis: The state is planning to close all but one of its COVID-19 mass vaccination sites by Aug. 7. A statement from Gov. Tim Walz late Friday said the state will focus on the several hundred smaller vaccination sites around the state, at pharmacies and health care providers. Minnesota Public Radio reports the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has been stagnant in recent weeks, at about two-thirds of residents 16 and older with at least one vaccine dose. Health officials have been turning to small-scale, targeted efforts to get the shots to more people. As of Friday the state reported administering more than 618,000 vaccine doses at the mass vaccination sites since January. The Mall of America location will be the only state-run mass vaccination site to stay open past the first week of August. As of Sunday, the state-run sites in St. Paul, Oakdale, Lino Lakes, Duluth, Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud are only offering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in their final weeks of operation. The state-run site at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will offer the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine until it closes in early August.

Mississippi

Greenwood: The Justice Department is continuing its investigation into the killing of Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose slaying 65 years ago in the Mississippi Delta community of Money sparked outrage and illustrated the brutality of racism in the segregated South. The department’s latest report on civil rights cold cases, released late last month, lists three investigations dating back decades that were closed because witnesses or suspects have died, leads went nowhere, or cases were too old to prosecute, but the Till case wasn’t among them. Relatives of Till said they didn’t know of anyone in the family who’d received official notification that the review had ended, a key step in the department’s process. “That’s all we know, that it’s still open,” family member Marvel Parker said Friday. Her husband, Wheeler Parker, was with Till the night he was taken from a family home at gunpoint. The youth’s brutalized body was later pulled from a river, where it had been weighted down with a cotton gin fan. Some news outlets reported last year that the investigation had ended. Initially closed in 2007, the case was reopened after a 2017 book quoted a key figure in the case, Carolyn Bryant Donham, as saying she lied when she claimed that the 14-year-old Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances.

Missouri

Jefferson City: Three of the state’s top health officials said Friday that trusted local leaders and community representatives must be the primary influencers in the state’s efforts to reduce a surge in COVID-19 cases. During a virtual news conference, Robert Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the state continues to have a strong relationship with federal health experts, but they all believe local health department workers and community representatives are the best avenue for persuading residents to be vaccinated. Knodell said federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials agree that people from out of state cannot “parachute” into Missouri to persuade residents to get vaccinated. “We’re on the same page as it relates to that,” Knodell said. The comments came after Republican Gov. Mike Parson said last week that he does not support a suggestion from President Joe Biden’s administration that government employees go door-to-door to urge people to get vaccinated. Jeffrey Zeints, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, responded that the program would rely on local doctors, faith leaders and others, and suggesting otherwise was “misinformation.”

Montana

Helena: Gov. Greg Gianforte has discontinued Montana’s membership in a coalition of two dozen states dedicated to fighting climate change. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a nonpartisan group committed to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Democratic former Gov. Steve Bullock joined the alliance in 2019. The alliance is made up of nearby Western states, including Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Evan Westrup, of the U.S. Climate Alliance, said Gianforte did not respond to the organization’s invitation to continue the state’s membership, Montana Public Radio reports. Gianforte spokesperson Brooke Stroyke said in a statement that the governor believes the solution to climate change is unleashing American innovation, not overbearing government mandates. She said the Paris Agreement punishes the U.S., while letting countries like China off the hook. Stroyke didn’t respond to requests to clarify Gianforte’s climate goals, or what sort of innovation is necessary in Montana. Amy Cilimburg, executive director of Climate Smart Missoula, said the state needs more than innovation. “The U.S. Climate Alliance was not some kind of a radical group; it was governors realizing that we’re stronger together,” Cilimburg said.

Nebraska

Omaha: Roughly 200 people were possibly exposed to a rabid bat while staying overnight at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the zoo said. The zoo and Nebraska health officials recommended that roughly 186 campers who stayed overnight at the aquarium in recent weeks, as well as some staffers, get rabies shots. A camper on July 4 woke up to a wild bat flying around her head. A zoo emergency medical technician didn’t find any bites or scratches on her. The zoo found seven wild bats in the aquarium and euthanized them. One tested positive for rabies. The zoo in a news release Friday said it has recommended that people exposed to wild bats while they were sleeping get rabies shots. The zoo gave campers refunds and is paying for their shots. Animal Health Director Dr. Sarah Woodhouse said in a statement that guests who visited the aquarium during the day shouldn’t be concerned because bats only come out at night. “The bats we identified were little brown bats, a common bat species in Nebraska that anyone could find in their backyard or attic,” Woodhouse said. “It is not unusual for a wild bat to be infected with rabies, which is why you should never directly touch a wild bat.” Zoo staff didn’t find any signs of long-term bat roosting at the aquarium.

Nevada

Reno: The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay the state $65,000 after the government mislabeled and mischaracterized low-level radioactive waste that was shipped to a disposal site north of Las Vegas for more than five years. The settlement agreement announced Thursday certifies that multiple changes have been made to prevent unapproved waste from being shipped and disposed of at the Nevada National Security Site in the future, state and federal officials said. It also establishes an additional groundwater monitoring well at the site. The Energy Department has said none of the materials shipped to Nevada posed any health or safety threats to workers or the public. They were mischaracterized as the wrong category of low-level waste and should have been classified as low-level mixed waste, the state’s review determined. Low-level waste can include equipment or worker’s clothing contaminated by exposure to radiation, while mixed low-level waste can include toxic metals. Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry notified Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in July 2019 that 33 packages of unapproved waste were sent in 10 shipments between 2013 and 2018 to the site from the Energy Department’s Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

New Hampshire

Concord: A council tasked with addressing broad issues around housing affordability and stability in the state seeks to increase housing availability by 13,500 units by 2024, according to its plan released Friday. The plan includes a three-year framework to specifically address homelessness across the state, with emphasis on the need for an increase in inventory of affordable housing. Recommendations include promoting new housing development, reducing barriers to affordable housing, and using a data-driven approach to understand regional needs. “The plan serves as a blueprint for our collective efforts – statewide, regionally, and locally – with a focus on alignment, coordination, innovation, and accountability,” Gov. Chris Sununu, who created the council last year, said in a statement. Sununu created the Council on Housing Stability after state police cleared a homeless encampment outside a courthouse in Manchester. It represents a revamping of the existing Interagency Council on Homelessness.

New Jersey

Seaside Heights: Gov. Phil Murphy signed a package of bills Friday aimed at moving the state closer to its goal of generating 100% of its power from clean sources by 2050. The measures make it easier to develop some solar energy projects and to locate and build electric vehicle charging stations. But still waiting for action by the Democratic governor is another bill that would remove most local control from where and how offshore wind energy projects come ashore. Murphy did not mention that bill at a signing ceremony in Seaside Heights in a municipal parking lot across the street from a popular water park. “From wind turbine component manufacturing to solar to electric vehicles, we are well on our way to putting New Jersey back to its rightful place as a national leader” in clean energy, Murphy said. One measure makes it easier to locate electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state, eliminating the need to go before planning or zoning boards to get them approved. A similar bill signed by the governor encourages development of zero-emission vehicle fueling and charging infrastructure in redevelopment projects. Murphy also signed two measures dealing with solar power projects. One allows so-called dual use solar projects located on unpreserved farm land that is still also used for agricultural purposes.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: Republican lawmakers are asking the state attorney general to weigh in on a spending dispute over $1.75 billion in federal pandemic relief aid. GOP leadership in a letter sent Thursday asked New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, to issue a legal opinion declaring the funds must be allocated by the Legislature to protect the body’s fiscal authority. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said her administration must distribute the money because of the way Congress passed the pandemic relief bill. The Legislature allocated money earlier this year, but Lujan Grisham used her veto power to effectively bring the money under discretionary control by her office. Republican lawmakers took issue. They, along with one vocal Democratic senator, signed a petition that called for an extraordinary legislative session to be convened to override the governor’s veto and bring the funds back under the Legislature’s control. Democratic majorities in the House and Senate did not sign on. “Standing on principle isn’t always popular,” Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said on Twitter in response to a news article. “Was easy for my Dem colleagues to challenge (the) power of (former Republican Gov. Susana) Martinez. Such a fair weather commitment to the law.”

New York

Albany: The state is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as vaccination rates slowly rise, according to data released Saturday. About 525 people each day tested positive for the coronavirus in New York for the seven days through Friday. That’s up from 369 people – a 42% increase – for the prior week. It’s unclear why more people in New York are testing positive, at a time when fewer people are getting tested. The state Department of Health said a higher percentage of cases are linked to more contagious variants and urged more people to get vaccinated. New York City is driving much of the increase in positives, though cases are also rising on parts of Long Island. Meanwhile, hospitalizations are flattening: Hospitals reported 342 COVID-19 patients as of Friday, similar to 340 patients from last Friday. About 55% of 20 million New Yorkers are fully vaccinated. That’s up from nearly 48% as of June 6. Vaccination rates are lowest in parts of western and central New York; about one-third of residents in Allegany County are fully vaccinated. Rates are also lower in parts of New York City: 43% of Bronx residents and 45.5% of Brooklyn residents are fully inoculated.

North Carolina

Fayetteville: Fayetteville State University has used pandemic relief funds to clear $1.6 million in tuition debt for nearly 1,500 students. The Fayetteville Observer reports the historically Black school utilized money from the federal legislation that’s known as the American Rescue Plan. Signed into law in March, it provided nearly $40 billion to higher education institutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. FSU cleared tuition that was not covered by federal student grants or loans. The school also plans to use $4.7 million in federal funds to provide free summer classes to 1,400 undergraduates through the summer of 2023. “The university is focused on students’ success by clearing past due balances and erasing debt,” FSU spokeswoman Joy Cook said. “When the burden of financial stress is taken away, student success increases.”

North Dakota

Bismarck: A Midwestern network and technology services provider says it plans to invest $200 million to upgrade and expand its fiber network in North Dakota. Midco said it’s part of a larger $500 million investment to its network in the upper Midwest that will benefit telehealth, education, government operations and remote working. Upgrading to 10-gigabit speed by 2030 is a goal toward which the cable provider has been working for the past couple years. “Now we think we can do it sooner,” said Midco President and CEO Pat McAdaragh. The phased upgrade begins in earnest in 2022, doubling Midco’s fiber network to 22,000 miles, McAdaragh said. Work in North Dakota will begin with a $100 million first phase in Bismarck, Dickinson and Fargo, lasting about three years. “Then immediately we’ll begin spending the other $100 million and getting to areas we haven’t gotten to done yet, so we’re looking at more of a six-year process than 10,” McAdaragh said. More than 25 communities, many of them rural, stand to benefit from the upgrade in North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reports. Midco expects remote work to continue to be an employment trend, sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio

Rootstown: An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver after a man allegedly attempted to swallow a bag of cannabis when he was pulled over for speeding. Ohio State Police Sgt. Ray Santiago said the traffic stop occurred July 3 in Portage County. Trooper Charles Hoskin stopped a vehicle that was allegedly traveling at 94 mph in a 70 mph zone, WEWS-TV reports. Dash camera video posted to the Ohio State Police Twitter account shows Hoskin asking if the driver could breathe before helping him out of the car and performing the Heimlich. The man expelled a bag of marijuana and apologized to the officer. After the man recovered, Hoskins asked: “Do you want to die over a minor misdemeanor?” The man received citations for speeding and failing to wear a seat belt, according to Santiago. The man also received a summons for marijuana and was released at the scene.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: Health officials on Friday urged more residents to get vaccinated amid an alarming spike in new cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19, particularly in the northeastern part of the state. Oklahoma is seeing an uptick in cases with the emergence of the new delta variant of the coronavirus, particularly in rural areas where there are lower rates of vaccinations, said Oklahoma Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye. He said those numbers will likely continue to increase following the Fourth of July holiday. “Vaccination numbers for 12 to 34 years old are particularly low, meaning this demographic is especially at risk,” Frye said. “We want people to get out and enjoy their lives and their freedoms. Vaccination is the way to get there.” Oklahoma has the 11th lowest percentage of its population fully inoculated at 38.9%, compared to a national average of 47.8%, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks from 190.29 new cases per day June 23 to 278.71 new cases per day Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, the CDC on Friday said it identified 47 cases, all with the delta variant, in April and May associated with a central Oklahoma gymnastics facility.

Oregon

Pendleton: Dozens of baby hawks, desperate to escape a blast of early summer heat in recent weeks, bailed from their nests and plummeted to the ground. Calls poured into Blue Mountain Wildlife day after day as temperatures pushed beyond 110 degrees across Eastern Oregon. Lynn Tompkins told the East Oregonian that she hadn’t seen anything like it in her 30 years as director of the wildlife rehabilitation center outside Pendleton. “They had no choice,” said Tompkins, 68. “It was just too bloody hot to survive.” In all, the center took in nearly 50 nestling Swainson’s and Cooper’s hawks after they leaped from their nests in the extreme heat wave that baked the Pacific Northwest. Thirteen of the raptors suffered injuries severe enough that they had to be euthanized. “We knew the temperature was going to spike beforehand, and we assumed we might get a few more calls,” said Trisha Marquez, a volunteer who fielded the calls and who is Tompkins’ niece. “But we did not expect this at all.” The influx was more than the small staff could handle. They hardly had the space to put them all and, eventually, asked people to turn on their sprinklers and hoses and set out pans of water for less-injured birds to cool themselves down.

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh: A museum has returned to public view a 19th-century diorama that shows lions attacking a camel and its human rider, about a year after covering it up in response to complaints about how the courier was depicted. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports a curtain around “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was removed a week ago, and information was posted to address the controversy. X-rays have confirmed that the figure contains a human skull and jaw, presenting an ethical problem for the museum, which does not know where those remains originated. The courier’s costume has been determined to be derived from at least five separate North African cultures. A new sign tells museum patrons that the exhibit, which vividly depicts two lions attacking a camel and its knife-wielding rider, is popular but reinforces stereotypes. “For the present, the museum is keeping the diorama on display,” the sign says. “We want to engage with visitors, staff, and community members to listen and learn from you as we consider the future of this diorama.” Museum director Gretchen Baker told the paper the curtains “were more harmful than not having them up at all,” and in hindsight covering the exhibit may not have been the right approach. The French-built diorama has been at the Carnegie since 1899.

Rhode Island

Providence: Gov. Dan McKee has vetoed legislation that would make property owners register with the state before listing short-term rentals through online lodging websites, to the chagrin of some concerned about the unregulated nature of the industry. “I cannot support this bill because it will create additional burden for property owners,” the Democratic governor wrote Thursday in a veto message. “Short-term rental concerns, like other property/land use and small business matters, are most effectively addressed at the municipal level.” Some municipal leaders and residents are worried about properties rented on vacation rental websites like Airbnb and VRBO becoming de facto hotels. Calls for a registry increased in the spring after a 22-year-old University of Rhode Island student was fatally stabbed during a party at a rental property in Newport. The proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the heavily Democratic Legislature, which can override McKee’s veto. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, both Democrats, wrote in a joint statement that they were “disappointed” by the veto.

South Carolina

Columbia: Conservationists have pulled a historic canoe from a river and plan to put it on display. Volunteers with the Chattooga Conservancy hauled the weathered wooden canoe out of the South Carolina side of the Chattooga River on Tuesday after a group of canoeists headed downstream discovered the craft last fall, The State newspaper reports. Archaeologists at the University of South Carolina say the boat could be 200 to 250 years old, a discovery that could shed light on life in the late 1700s. Canoes of that age are rarely found along the Chattooga, a free-flowing mountain river that runs along the Georgia-South Carolina border. Most of South Carolina’s historic canoes have been found in the state’s Lowcountry region, said underwater archaeologist James Spirek. “Up in the mountains on the rivers, they’re a little rare,” Spirek told the newspaper. “It’s interesting to find people were using canoes on some of these wild rivers.” The experts said the canoe was hollowed out using an iron hatchet or ax, suggesting it was made after Europeans settled in the Southeast. A nail was also found at one end of the canoe. Volunteers are expected this week to pull the boat up a mountain slope and down a bank to then float it down a calmer river stretch to move it out of the river corridor for storage or display.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Two Native Americans announced Thursday that they were joining a lawsuit against South Dakota alleging that state agencies failed to offer voter registration services. The two tribal members, along with the Lakota People’s Law Project, said they were asking a federal district judge to allow them to join a lawsuit that alleges state agencies are breaking federal law by not providing ample opportunities to register to vote or update voter registration information at places like motor vehicle and public assistance offices near Native American reservations. Federal law requires the agencies to help people register to vote at those kinds of offices, including ones that provide public assistance or serve people with disabilities. The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe initiated the legal challenge last year. The state has denied those allegations in court documents and asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. The tribes have argued that state practices already make it difficult for Native American people to register to vote. They alleged that they have documented instances in which people tried to register their votes at state agency offices but were turned away.

Tennessee

Nashville: A federal judge on Friday halted enforcement of a new state law requiring businesses to post special signs if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. The first-of-its-kind law went into effect July 1 and would require such businesses to post signs on multiperson bathrooms that say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.” Businesses in Nashville and Chattanooga sued over the law, claiming that being forced to post those signs would violate their First Amendment rights by compelling them to communicate language they find offensive. The state of Tennessee argued in court that the signs are merely factual. In her Friday decision, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger handed a victory to the businesses that sued, granting a preliminary injunction that effectively prevents the state from enforcing the law while the case works through the courts. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has found that compelling individuals to “mouth support for views they find objectionable” violates a cardinal constitutional command unless justified by “the strongest of rationales.”

Texas

Austin: A Houston man who received widespread attention after standing six hours in line to cast a ballot in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary was in jail Friday on charges that it was illegal for him to vote at all because he was on parole. Hervis Rogers became an overnight face of Texas’ battle over voting access when he emerged from a polling center at a historically Black college around 1:30 a.m. He was among Houston voters on Super Tuesday who waited more than an hour – some for several hours – in mostly minority, Democratic neighborhoods. Lines in mostly white, Republican neighborhoods were shorter. “The way it was set up, it was like it was set up for me to walk away,” Rogers told reporters. He was arrested this week on two counts of illegal voting, a second-degree felony that carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years in prison. His bail was set at $100,000. Rogers, 62, voted last March while still on parole from a felony burglary conviction, making him ineligible to cast a ballot under Texas law. Andre Segura, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas who is representing Rogers, said his client did not know he was ineligible to vote. “We shouldn’t be prosecuting people for innocent mistakes,” Segura said. The rare arrest on illegal voting allegations comes as Texas Republicans begin a second attempt at passing many of the same restrictive voting measures blocked by Democrats during a dramatic late-night walkout in May.

Utah

Milford: Just outside this town of about 1,400 people in southwest Utah, researchers behind a major energy project are hoping to tap into a limitless supply of clean, reliable power. The energy exists thousands of feet below the surface, where the natural heat from the Earth’s core can be used to create electricity. Researchers at the Utah-based FORGE lab are working on technology to create geothermal reservoirs almost anywhere in the world, KUER reports. Geothermal power already exists but currently makes up just 0.4% of energy production in the U.S. So far it’s largely been limited to select areas around naturally occurring hot springs, such as the Roosevelt Hot Springs in Beaver County. FORGE lab researchers have recently completed one of two major wells they’ll use to develop the tools to build “enhanced geothermal systems” – human-made versions of natural geothermal reservoirs that pump water through cracks underground, heat it, and use the steam to power turbines or to heat buildings. If successful, the project and others like it could lead to “a 40-fold increase over present geothermal power generating capacity,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “The world is looking at Milford,” said Joseph Moore, a geologist and lead researcher at FORGE.

Vermont

Winooski: The state is undergoing a pandemic-related liquor shortage, regulators say, leading to empty shelves in some stores and warehouses, WCAX-TV reports. “It is a global issue. A lot of it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s not going to be a quick fix,” said Wendy Knight, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery. It’s a global supply chain issue “from production gearing back up from the pandemic, worker shortages, shipping issues, and a glass shortage. That comes on top of demand from restaurants and bars reopening,” she said. The Burlington bar The Archives planned to open a second location in Winooski last year, but the pandemic kept it closed until Thursday. Now the arcade bar is facing another obstacle. “The liquor shortage has been a challenge,” the bar’s co-owner Matthew Walters said. Bars and restaurants are not the only ones feeling the tight supply. “There’s enough to at least have your second choice, if not your first,” George Bergin of the Beverage Warehouse in Winooski told the news station. “With all the bars and restaurants opening up everywhere, everyone is trying to restock their shelves, and it’s just taking a little bit of time to get caught up with the sudden demand.” Vermont saw a 13% increase in liquor sales amid the pandemic, Knight said.

Virginia

Charlottesville: Cheers erupted Saturday as a Confederate statue that towered for nearly a century over downtown was carted away by truck from the city where it had become a flashpoint for racist protests and deadly violence. It was a day of palpable joy and immense relief for scores of residents and visitors who lined neighboring streets to watch the larger-than-life figure of Gen. Robert E. Lee as it was hoisted from its pedestal and taken – at least for now – to storage. The statue’s removal came more than five years after racial justice activists had renewed a push to take down the monument, an initiative that drew the attention of white supremacists and other racist groups, culminating in the violent “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. “I’m ecstatic that we’re here now. It’s sad that it’s taken so much to get us to this point. But this is an incredible day,” said Don Gathers, a local Black activist who long advocated for the statue’s removal. Work to remove Lee’s statue, as well as one of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson shortly after, proceeded peacefully and without interruption. Also removed Saturday was a statue depicting Sacagawea and explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that has been criticized for a depiction of the Native American guide and interpreter that some view as subservient and weak.

Washington

Tacoma: A federal jury has convicted a timber thief who authorities said started a large forest fire in a case that prosecutors said marked the first time tree DNA had been introduced in a federal trial. The jury deliberated for about seven hours before convicting Justin Andrew Wilke, 39, on Thursday of conspiracy, theft of public property, depredation of public property, and trafficking and attempted trafficking in unlawfully harvested timber, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Washington said in a news release. The wood he sold to a mill in the city of Tumwater had been harvested from private property with a valid permit, Wilke said. But a research geneticist for the U.S. Forest Service, Richard Cronn, testified that the wood he sold genetically matched the remains of three poached trees. Wilke used gasoline to destroy a wasp’s nest in the base of a maple tree he was stealing, prosecutors said, though jurors did not convict him of charges related to the fire. Some witnesses testified that, although Wilke was standing next to the nest when the fire began, they did not actually see his actions in the dark. Wilke and others conducted an illegal logging operation in the Elk Lake area of the Olympic National Forest, near Hood Canal, between April and August 2018, according to records filed in the case.

West Virginia

Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice called on Saturday for the resignation of a state lawmaker who posted a sexually explicit TikTok video to his public account. State Del. Joe Jeffries was stripped of a committee assignment Friday after word spread of the social media posting, according to a statement from House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, who called his fellow Republican an “embarrassment.” On Saturday, the GOP governor issued a statement calling Jeffries’ behavior “sad” and “childish.” “Not only did he yell graphic comments about me to a group of senators during the recent Legislative Session, but now we find that his not-so-secret TikTok is full of disgustingly vulgar videos, which are especially insulting to women,” Justice’s statement said. “This is the behavior of an immature child, not a 39-year-old father and elected official.” The governor said he had expected to hear an apology from Jeffries by Saturday morning, “but all he has done is hide from the media and the criticism.” Jeffries, whose district includes a group of counties near Charleston, posted the video Thursday. His account was set to private Friday. Belinda Biafore, chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said Jeffries “has a slew of inappropriate and vulgar videos with his own sexually explicit commentary on a social media app aimed at youth.”

Wisconsin

Madison: A bishop has taken the unusual step of removing a priest from the ministry after he made a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic. The Diocese of La Crosse said in a statement Friday that Bishop William Patrick Callahan has issued a decree immediately removing the Rev. James Altman as pastor of St. James the Less, a parish in the city of La Crosse. The decree will remain in effect for an undetermined length of time, the statement said. “(The bishop) and his diocesan representatives have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns of the ministry of Fr. James Altman,” the statement said. “The obligation of a Bishop is to ensure that all who serve the faithful are able to do so while unifying and building the Body of Christ.” Diocese officials didn’t release the decree and didn’t immediately respond to a request for a copy. Altman told conservative news outlet LifeSiteNews.com that he’s not surprised the Catholic hierarchy is trying to silence him. “Unfortunately for the corrupt hierarchy, I will not be silenced by any arbitrary Decree, nor will I be cowed by any action against my priestly faculties,” he said.

Wyoming

Gillette: A rancher who was pinned by an all-terrain vehicle survived on beer and bottled water for two days. Frank Reynolds, 53, was trying to round up a cow and calf on a neighbor’s pasture outside Gillette when the vehicle tipped over on him July 4, Reynolds told the Gillette News Record. “It was scary as hell is what it was,” Reynolds said Wednesday from a hospital room. Family thought Reynolds had gone camping or was with friends, said Quentin Reynolds, the Campbell County undersheriff and Frank’s brother. Later Monday, they began to worry. Eventually, they learned Frank Reynolds had planned to do some work on the property, where he was laying with a dislocated shoulder and broken ribs. A search began. Reynolds, meanwhile, honked the ATV’s horn so much he wore down the battery – to no avail. He was able to ration a couple of bottles of water and Keystone Light beers from a cooler, Sheriff Scott Matheny said. Searching on horseback, neighbor Don Hamm found Reynolds about 8 a.m. Tuesday. By that point, Reynolds recalled he was “pretty much out of it.” “Everything on the left side pretty much hurt, from the top of my head to my toes,” he said. He was expected to remain in the hospital a few more days and eventually recover.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weeding robots, goat lottery, liquor shortage: News from around our 50 states

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