Momoa at Mauna Kea, Confederate context, Guthrie garbage tribute: News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: National party officials are expressing concern that the Alabama Democratic Party isn’t doing enough to attract more nonblack minorities. The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee on Tuesday rejected the state party’s proposed bylaws. The national party in February ordered the Alabama party to hold new elections for party leaders and to revise bylaws and encourage participation by more minorities. The directive came amid challenges over the re-election of Nancy Worley as chair of the state party. Committee member Harold Ickes says the party’s proposal did not comply with the DNC directive, and internal elections last year made the “Keystone Cops look organized.” Worley told the panel that people unhappy with her election are “refighting the civil war” with the challenges.


Juneau: A group that includes a coal company chairman and a framer of the state’s constitution is launching an effort aimed at recalling Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, weeks after his far-reaching budget vetoes prompted public outrage. In late June, Dunleavy announced vetoes of more than $400 million, affecting health, social-service and other programs and prompting the university system to begin making plans for a transition to a single institution. Lawmakers, unable to muster sufficient votes to override the vetoes amid a dispute over the special session’s proper meeting location, this week passed legislation restoring many of the cuts, including $110 million of the $130 million Dunleavy vetoed for the university. He still can cut any spending with which he doesn’t agree.


Phoenix: A federal judge has overturned the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of plans for a new copper mine. The judge ruled late Wednesday that the agency improperly evaluated and considered water use issues associated with the Rosemont Mine project in the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. Conservation and tribal groups on Thursday praised the ruling, saying it recognized that the Forest Service failed to protect public land and resources in mountains that are home to endangered jaguars and cougars, black bears and deer. The mountain range is also home to the Madera Canyon, one of the premier U.S. bird-watching spots. The $1.9 billion Rosemont Mine was expected to leave a waste pile the height of skyscraper. Plans called for it to be built along a scenic highway near Arizona wine country and the small community of Sonoita.


Little Rock: The Little Rock Zoo says a Northwest Bornean orangutan has given birth to her first baby. Zoo spokesman Lamor Williams says mother Berani delivered the baby Sunday. The newborn orangutan, which is not yet named, is the fifth born to father Bandar. Williams says the baby is part of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan, which manages orangutans in Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos. The World Wildlife Fund lists Bornean orangutans as critically endangered, one step below extinct in the wild. According to the WWF, their populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years.


Sacramento: Heterosexual couples now have a legal alternative to marriage in the Golden State. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Tuesday that lets straight couples register as domestic partners. California has recognized domestic partnerships since 2000. But the law only applied to same-sex couples who, at the time, were not allowed to get married. The law’s goal was to give same-sex couples the same legal protections as marriage. In 2015, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The ruling had no effect on the state’s domestic partnership law, giving same-sex couples the choice of getting married or filing as a domestic partnership. Same-sex couples – except for those older than 62 – still had just one option: marriage.


Denver: A citizens’ campaign turned in thousands of voter signatures Thursday in hopes of repealing a new law that would pledge the state’s presidential electoral votes to the national popular vote winner. The group Coloradans Vote said it submitted more than 227,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office – well above the 124,000 valid signatures needed to get the question on the November 2020 ballot. The secretary of state has 30 days to certify there are enough signatures to require a referendum. A vote next year could mark the first time a state has joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, only to have the move challenged at the ballot box.


Hartford: About 1,500 nonunion state employees will be receiving raises in line with their union colleagues. The Hartford Courant reports that Gov. Ned Lamont signed off on the 3.5% raises that apply to managers, appointees and others. The raises are consistent with recent pay increases for union members and those working for the legislative and judicial branches. The raises are expected to cost about $4.4 million a year. A 2017 agreement with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition calls for annual 3.5% cost-of-living increases for all union employees. The Democratic governor says his senior staff hired in the last six months won’t be getting a raise.


Wilmington: The state’s environmental authority says it has found a new species of tick for the first time in the state. The Asian longhorned tick, also known as the cattle tick or bush tick, was found in northern New Castle County in late June, according to a Wednesday press release from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. There have been no reports of Asian longhorned tick-borne illness in the U.S., the release said. But in other countries, these tick bites have made people and animals “seriously ill” with fevers and other viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The species is known to swarm livestock and horses in great numbers, leading to substantial loss of blood and possible death of the animals, the release said.

District of Columbia

Washington: In unusually forceful language, the leadership of the Washington National Cathedral has condemned what it called the “racialized rhetoric” of President Donald Trump and directly compared him to 1950s anti-Communist demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The statement, released Tuesday, isn’t so much an appeal for Trump to retract or soften his statements as a call for the nation as a whole to reject them. It asks: “After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?” The statement, issued in the name of three of the cathedral’s top leaders – Revs. Mariann Budde, Randolph Hollerith and Kelly Douglas – makes multiple direct references to the Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s led by McCarthy. It accuses Trump of deliberately fanning racial divisions for political gain the same way McCarthy used fears of Communist infiltration.


Orlando: Universal Orlando officials say the resort is doubling in size with plans for a fourth theme park, but they are offering almost no information on when it will open, what it will hold or how much they’re spending. Despite the lack of details, officials with the theme park resort promised Thursday that it would be epic. To that end, they’re calling the new park Universal’s Epic Universe. The CEO of Universal’s parent company, Comcast NBCUniversal, said the fourth park will be the biggest investment the company has made in its theme park business. The resort already operates Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, as well as the Volcano Bay water park, in Orlando. Universal recently had been acquiring hundreds of acres of land near Orlando’s convention center.


The Peace Monument at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
The Peace Monument at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.

Atlanta: The city will soon add some lessons about the South’s racist history on markers next to four historic monuments. The first of the panels could be installed as early as Friday, officials say. In Piedmont Park, the 1911 Peace Monument commemorating post-Civil War reconciliation will get context noting that its inscription promotes a narrative centered on white veterans, while ignoring African Americans. Many white Southerners retroactively viewed the Civil War through “the lens of Lost Cause mythology” reframing the history. “That mythology claimed that despite defeat, the Confederate cause was morally just,” states the marker to be placed near the Peace Monument. “This monument should no longer stand as a memorial to white brotherhood; rather, it should be seen as an artifact representing a shared history in which millions of Americans were denied civil and human rights.” Georgia law bars the removal of such monuments.


Honolulu: “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa on Wednesday visited Native Hawaiian protesters blocking the construction of a giant telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain. The Native Hawaiian actor wore a green leaf lei around his neck and the crown of his head as he attended a ceremony at the protest site. Honolulu television stations livestreamed dancers in jeans and windbreakers performing hula in chilly weather. Momoa stooped low to present an offering wrapped in green ti leaves. He said he was honored to be there, drawing cheers after saying, “We are not going anywhere.” Protesters have blocked the road to the summit for 17 days. Some Native Hawaiians believe Mauna Kea’s summit is sacred. The summit also has the best conditions for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere.


Boise: Gov. Brad Little says the state’s economy is strong, but additional work is needed to shore up transportation infrastructure, education and health care. Little also told some 400 business community members attending his speech at the Boise Metro Chamber event on Wednesday that Idaho’s prison incarceration rate is far too high. The Republican governor hit familiar themes in touting his efforts to make the state a place where children and grandchildren will want to remain or return to live. Little gave his speech at J.R. Simplot Company’s Jack’s Urban Meeting Place. Little called J.R. Simplot, who died in 2008, a mentor and said Idaho must continue on the path exemplified by Simplot of innovation and hard work to remain competitive.


Chicago: A sometimes overlooked Chicago River museum has reached the mark of 250,000 visitors. A Monday statement from the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum says a suburban Chicago woman, Deb Lawrence, was the weekend visitor to put the facility at that mark. Friends of the Chicago River opened the museum in a 99-year-old bridge house on the Michigan Avenue bridge in 2006. The mission was to promote a better understanding of the role the river played in city history. There are exhibits depicting the time when Native Americans and early European settlers both lived along the river. Visitors can also see how Chicago’s movable bridges work. Friends’ executive director, Margaret Frisbie, says the museum also shows how a waterway “once primarily thought of as part of the sewage system” is again a valuable asset.


Indianapolis: Federal court officials in the city are warning that scammers are using the court’s main phone number to scam and intimidate people. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana says its clerk’s office recently began receiving calls from people reporting that someone claiming to be with the “court” had called them hoping to scam them. The would-be victims’ caller ID made it appear as if the culprits were calling from the court’s main phone number, 317-229-3700, when they actually were not. The would-be scammers told several stories, including telling the calls’ recipients that their Social Security benefits had been “hacked” and asking for their Social Security number. Many of those being targeted have Latino heritage. Court officials say government employees would never request personal information over the phone.


Des Moines: The State Board of Education has adopted new rules that would require lap-shoulder seat belts on all new buses bought by school districts and state-accredited nonpublic schools. The administrative rules adopted Thursday are still subject to legislative review. Other safety equipment required would include one additional stop arm per bus, hand rails, exterior boarding lights, and fire-resistant crash barriers between the front bus seats and the bus drivers. Districts wouldn’t have to retrofit their current fleets. The rules would apply to new buses manufactured on or after Oct. 2, the date the new rules are scheduled to take effect. Iowa Education Department spokeswoman Staci Hupp says the new rules would apply equally to contracted service providers.


Wichita: Some teens on probation in Sedgwick County receive high-priced items such as iPads, Xboxes and Amazon gift cards as rewards in an after-school program meant to keep them from reoffending. The Wichita Eagle reports that the incentives are funded with public dollars and are not in line with state recommendations that call for incentives of limited financial value. The incentives are part of a system that encourages youth to make positive choices. County and state officials say their cost is small compared to the cost of locking up young lawbreakers. It’s part of a national trend toward emphasizing rewards for good behavior over punishment for bad. Kansas changed its juvenile justice approach in 2016 to focus on keeping youths out of detention when possible.


Frankfort: The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund says it has acquired about 2,000 acres of forestland in Bell County for the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail. The state Energy and Environment Cabinet says the purchase enables recreation options including hiking and birding and will conserve habitat for rare species including the northern long-eared bat. Kentucky State Parks Commissioner Donnie Holland says the land purchase will add about 4 miles to the Pine Mountain trail. Conservation fund Director Zeb Weese says the trail will be the access point closest to Pineville and Pine Mountain State Resort Park. The organization has funded thousands of acres on Pine Mountain and says all the sites have management plans to keep them focused on conservation and compatible recreation.


Baton Rouge: Two Louisiana State University researchers have a four-year, $500,000 grant to figure out whether one natural form of DNA regulation affects cattle embryos’ ability to survive. LSU AgCenter researchers Zongliang “Carl” Jiang and Ken Bondioli are studying DNA methylization, a chemical attachment that acts like an on-off switch for individual genes. This form was known in other organisms but wasn’t found in mammals until 2016. Jiang says he recently found it in cattle embryos. Jiang says their work could eventually help livestock production and even human fertility treatments, but that’s years in the future. Right now, he says, the researchers are just investigating how it works. The grant is from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Kennebunk: A Victorian-era train depot that later housed a macrame bead shop, a bike business and the headquarters of Tom’s of Maine is up for sale. The Boston Globe reports the 4,125-square-foot, wood-frame building is listed at $939,000 and is currently the home of Dietz Associates Inc., a creative design and marketing firm. Tim Dietz and his wife, Kathy, bought the depot in 2004 and restored the building, which opened in the 1870s for the Boston and Maine Railroad. It closed in the 1960s. A variety of businesses have occupied the building, including Tom’s of Maine, known for its natural toothpaste and personal care products. Dietz said because he and his wife are in their mid-60s, “it’s time to downsize.”


Annapolis: Prosecutors in the case of a man accused of killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper can review records relating to his mental health since he has been incarcerated, a judge ruled Wednesday. Judge Laura Ripken’s ruling comes as attorneys in the case have been battling over information they need to share before the November trial of Jarrod Ramos, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting at the newsroom. William Davis, Ramos’ lawyer, contended the information is privileged and wouldn’t be relevant until a second phase of the trial, if a jury finds Ramos guilty. But Ripken ruled the privilege doesn’t apply in the case of an insanity plea, which she said “is actively being pursued.” Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Leitess said Ramos’ mental health is “highly relevant.”


Great Barrington: Whoever dumped trash at the building made famous in Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 Thanksgiving protest anthem “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” has a sense of humor. The director of what’s now the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington discovered Tuesday that someone had filled the dumpster with garbage and left a grubby sofa nearby. They also left a sign that said: “Officer Obie told me to do it.” The sign was a reference to former Stockbridge Police Chief William Obanhein, the Officer Obie of the song who arrested Guthrie for illegally dumping trash. Guthrie, who was traveling Tuesday, said in a note to The Berkshire Eagle through a family member, “I hope they left an envelope with some money in it.” According to the song, an envelope with a name on it led to Guthrie’s arrest.


Detroit: A nonprofit community mobilization coalition wants local businesses, groups and individuals to take part in its annual Neighborhoods Day this weekend. ARISE Detroit! says volunteers are needed to help beautify, clean up and remove blight from city neighborhoods. Neighborhoods Day is Saturday, and more than 200 organizations already have registered for community service projects. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has committed with more than 250 employees to beautify and spruce up 16 public schools buildings and participate in six other community service projects. ARISE Detroit! Executive Director Luther Keith says that “there are many neighborhood groups that are stretched for resources, and a few volunteers can make a big difference for them on Neighborhoods Day.”


Worthington: State agriculture officials are placing Nobles County under emergency quarantine after emerald ash borers were discovered in the city. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that it’s the first time emerald ash borers have been identified in the county. The quarantine is aimed at limiting movement of firewood and ash products out of the area, reducing the risk of spreading the tree-killing insect. A total of 19 Minnesota counties are now under a full or partial quarantine to prevent spreading emerald ash borers. The pest was found along Interstate 90. An open house for Nobles County residents to learn more about emerald ash borer will be held Sept. 4 in Worthington. The state Agriculture Department plans to impose the quarantine Oct. 1.


Jackson: The state’s new lottery is seeking advertising to help sell tickets. The Lottery Corp. says it’s looking for advertising and marketing companies to help build its brand, make advertisements and buy ad space. The deadline for companies to submit proposals is Aug. 22. The corporation announced in June that it wants to start selling scratch-off tickets by Dec. 1. Sales of tickets for multistate games such as Powerball could begin in 2020, lottery President Tom Shaheen has said. Mississippi had been one of six states without a lottery, and churches were longtime opponents of creating one. But as the state faced increasing problems with crumbling highways and bridges, lawmakers last year voted to start a lottery to generate money for transportation.


Independence: Property owners near a cattle farm are suing to stop a major expansion of the operation. A lawsuit filed Tuesday by 141 property owners contends the Valley Oaks Steak Co.’s farm already has brought noise, odors and pests to the area near Lone Jack, about 25 miles east of Kansas City. The lawsuit contends the problems will only get worse if Valley Oaks’ proposal to expand from fewer than 999 cattle to 6,999 cattle is granted. The landowners and Powell Gardens, a botanical garden about 3 miles from Valley Oaks, have opposed the expansion. In January, a Jackson County judge granted a preliminary injunction that put the expansion plans on hold. Valley Oaks officials have said the operation will be among the most environmentally friendly concentrated animal feeding operations in the country.


Billings: The Northern Cheyenne Tribe has been awarded $2 million in federal funding to build a solar farm. The Billings Gazette reports the tribe will put in matching funding for the construction of the White River Solar Project near Busby. Officials expect the 26-acre solar farm to generate 2.6 megawatts, enough electricity for about 100 homes. Project director Kyle Atwood says the solar farm has 18 months to be built. He says officials are still working out details for how the power will be delivered. The tribe is discussing selling the power to the Tongue River Electric Cooperative. The project aims to lower electricity prices for residents of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, where Atwood says monthly electric bills range from $250 to $450.


Lincoln: State business and education leaders have unveiled a plan designed to create 25,000 jobs while adding $15,000 to the annual income of every resident by 2030. The plan from the group Blueprint Nebraska also seeks to bring 43,000 new young adults into the state and attract $200 million in annual research and development initiatives. The group also hopes to make Nebraska a top-ranked state for its quality of life. Blueprint Nebraska identified 15 high-priority initiatives to achieve the goal. The list includes public-private partnerships to provide more internships and apprenticeships, increasing broadband access and an initiative to promote entrepreneurship. Blueprint Nebraska includes top business groups including the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, state officials, and leaders of the University of Nebraska.


Elko: A mobile command vehicle has been assigned to emergency planning personnel in northeast Nevada to better handle crisis situations. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the Nevada Division of Emergency Management are giving Elko County authorities the vehicle free of charge. The 2004 Freightliner Major Incident Response Vehicle was little used due to its cost of operation and other factors. The Elko County Sheriff’s Office says the 10-seat vehicle was financed through grant funds. The vehicle will be used for emergency operations as a command post and a communications center. Officials say the sheriff’s office will house the vehicle and fulfill associated costs. Officials say the vehicle originally cost $340,000 and has more than 10,000 miles on it.

New Hampshire

Concord: A federal judge says a challenge to the state’s new voter residency law can continue. Judge Joseph Laplante refused this week to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Dartmouth College students. The new law ends the state’s distinction between “domicile” and “residency” for voting purposes, which means out-of-state college students who vote in New Hampshire would also be subject to residency requirements, such as getting New Hampshire driver’s licenses or registering their cars. Laplante heard about two hours of arguments on the state’s requests to dismiss the case and to remove Secretary of State William Gardner as a defendant. After denying both motions, Laplante said while he agrees the students have standing to sue, he isn’t saying they have a particularly strong case.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state now allows terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs after a new law went into effect Thursday. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had signed the bill in April, making New Jersey the seventh with such a measure. Maine enacted a similar law in June, becoming the eighth. The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act allows only patients who are terminally ill and have a prognosis of six months or less to live to acquire medication to end their lives. Lawmakers tried for years going back to at least 2012 to advance the legislation. The legislation has several measures that legislators called “safeguards.” They include requiring patients to make two requests and allowing them a chance to rescind the request.

New Mexico

Dexter: A park has been closed after a swarm of killer bees attacked two people. Dexter Fire and Rescue Chief Justin Powell told the Roswell Daily Record two internet service provider workers were stung over 100 times Tuesday in Dexter. Powell says the workers were repairing equipment on top of an unused water tower at the park when they were attacked. He says the bees chased the workers, who climbed from the tower and run away screaming. Powell says two police officers, three firefighters and emergency medical personnel who responded also were stung. Firefighters later doused foam onto a bee’s nest in the park. Officials say the town will let the bees calm down and seek a bee expert to remove them.

New York

Mount Vernon: A three-week standoff that left this suburban community with two men claiming to be mayor has been resolved after a judge ruled that the former mayor’s guilty plea to stealing campaign funds meant he had forfeited his office. Former Mayor Richard Thomas was seen cleaning out his City Hall office Wednesday night, and a U-Haul truck delivered several items to Thomas’ house. State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Ecker ruled earlier Wednesday that Thomas had vacated his office by pleading guilty July 8 to misusing 2015 campaign funds. Mount Vernon’s city council appointed its president, Andre Wallace, as acting mayor July 11, but Thomas initially argued that his plea agreement had given him until Sept. 30 to step down.

North Carolina

Raleigh: The state’s elections board is deadlocked over whether to require that voting machines produce a paper printout that lets voters read and confirm their ballot. The state’s Board of Elections on Thursday decided to debate the issue again in three weeks. By then, it’s likely a fifth member will be appointed to replace the chairman who resigned this week. The board is deciding whether voting machines offered by three companies will be cleared for sale to the state’s 100 counties for years to come. One third of the counties are under pressure because a state law says they can’t use their current touch-screen devices after this year. The elections board’s decision comes amid new warnings of Russia and other foreign rivals trying to sabotage U.S. elections.

North Dakota

Fargo: Two new abortion laws in the state aren’t being enforced because of legal challenges. The state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo sued in June over a measure requiring physicians to tell women that they may reverse a so-called medication abortion if they have second thoughts. That law was to go into effect Thursday, but the state has agreed to not enforce it until a federal judge rules. The other makes it a crime for a doctor performing a second-trimester abortion to use instruments such as clamps, scissors and forceps to remove the fetus from the womb. The law becomes effective if a federal court allows its enforcement. Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic, says that “basically nothing has changed” at the Fargo facility.


Columbus: As students prepare to head back to class, buyers get a bit of a break on certain school supplies and clothing during the state’s annual sales tax holiday this Friday through Sunday. The tax exemption applies to clothing items priced at $75 or less, certain school supplies priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials priced at $20 or less. The list of eligible items includes purchases such as textbooks, reference books, markers, calculators, lunch boxes, shoes, uniforms, coats, diapers and even formal wear if the items are under the $75 threshold. Materials bought for use in a business or trade aren’t eligible. The Department of Taxation says as long as the individual items are eligible, there is no limit on the amount of the total tax-exempt transaction.


Oklahoma City: A court on Thursday upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions and 263-year prison sentence of a former police officer whose case has been watched closely by the Black Lives Matter movement and some conservatives. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously rejected appeals by Daniel Holtzclaw that included a lack of evidence, excessive sentence, prosecutorial misconduct, a “circus atmosphere” during his trial, and a failure by the defense attorney to present an expert to offer an alternative explanation to how DNA of one victim wound up on Holtzclaw’s pants. Holtzclaw’s family said in a statement that it is devastated by the ruling, but not surprised. Prosecutors alleged Holtzclaw, 32, targeted black women and girls while on duty. He was convicted in 2015 on 18 charges involving seven women and one girl that occurred in 2013 and 2014.


Salem: A state senator’s threats against the Senate president and the Oregon State Police on the eve of a walkout by Senate Republicans in June sent a shock wave of fear through the Capitol. Some who work in the domed building wept, expressing fear of returning to the job, emails obtained by the Associated Press show. Among protective measures that were considered: escorting employees from their parking spaces to their desks, creating secured work areas and even having state police at the dais in the Senate chamber. Republican Sen. Brian Boquist warned June 19 if the state police were sent to force him to return during the walkout, they should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.” The GOP senators staged a walkout June 20, preventing majority Democrats from voting on the bill that would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


Frackville: A man who spent more than two decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit is a free man. John Miller was released from prison Wednesday after 22 years. Surrounded by family outside a state prison 100 miles north of Philadelphia, he said it felt “surreal.” A jury in 1998 found Miller guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in a train station parking lot, even though there was no physical evidence of his involvement. The key witness against him confessed multiple times to being the real shooter and even sent a letter to Miller’s mother apologizing for lying. Miller, now 44, contacted the Pennsylvania Innocence Project about eight years ago to help with an appeal. On Wednesday morning, a judge set Miller free.

Rhode Island

Providence: Portraits of late Mayor Buddy Cianci that were removed from a city hotel in response to a complaint about his criminal past are now for sale. WLNE-TV reports that the portraits that hung throughout The Graduate Providence hotel have been donated to the Cianci Educational Foundation, which is selling them to raise money for scholarships. The Graduate is located in the same building as the former Biltmore Hotel, where Cianci once lived. The hotel removed the portraits that hung in every guestroom in June after Kath Connolly wrote a letter to management to remind them of “the corruption, crime, fear, and dishonesty” during Cianci’s years in office. Cianci was sentenced to 4 1/2years in prison after a corruption conviction in 2002. He died in 2016.

South Carolina

Spartanburg: A woman says a porch pirate may have stolen a package containing nine tarantulas from her front porch. News outlets report the woman says she received a notification Friday morning that the FedEx shipment had been delivered. When she went to get the package, she says it wasn’t there. The Spartanburg County sheriff’s office says the spiders are valued at $1,000. The responding deputy listed the case as a “possible larceny of mail.” The report says there’s no surveillance video from the home, and there are no suspects at this time.

South Dakota

The sun sets behind a herd of bison in Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota.
The sun sets behind a herd of bison in Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota.

Rapid City: Rangers in Wind Cave National Park have noticed an increase in the number of bison-vehicle crashes, with six such crashes this year. Half resulted in fatal injuries to the bison. Park officials say there were no bison crashes last year, and in 2017 two were hit but did not die. Park spokesman Tom Farrell says the latest crash happened late Saturday night when a local woman driving a car on Highway 385 struck and killed a bison. Farrell tells the Rapid City Journal says he’s not sure what’s behind the increase this year, but he says drivers need to watch their speeds and look out for the animals, especially at night when they’re hard to see. Bison can often weigh as much as a ton.


Memphis: Jewelry, clothing, contractual documents and a signed guitar are among more than 400 items available at an auction of Elvis Presley-related memorabilia at Graceland. Elvis Presley Enterprises says online bidding is now open for The Auction at Graceland, part of the Elvis Week celebration this month. The celebration of the late singer and actor’s life and career draws fans each year to Memphis and Graceland, Presley’s former home-turned-museum. Elvis Week coincides with the anniversary of Presley’s death Aug. 16, 1977. The Aug. 13 auction will include a black tuxedo made for Presley’s 1969 Film, “The Trouble with Girls,” a 14-karat diamond ring he gave to musician JD Sumner, and an agreement signed in 1955 by Presley giving Col. Tom Parker part of Presley’s publishing rights.


This new Selena mural by San Siguenza was installed on the exterior of the Food Store on Elvira Drive in the Molina neighborhood of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday.
This new Selena mural by San Siguenza was installed on the exterior of the Food Store on Elvira Drive in the Molina neighborhood of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday.

Corpus Christi: A new mural of slain Tejano star Selena now graces a neighborhood where she lived. The mural unveiled Tuesday in Corpus Christi’s Molina neighborhood has three watercolor images of the Grammy-winning singer who was shot in 1995. A former president of Selena’s fan club is serving life in prison for killing her. The original mural had Selena’s portrait and the words “Always in our Hearts.” That work was done by some students and art teacher Dicky Valdez shortly after Selena’s death. But the mural showed signs of wear by last year. Selena’s relatives paid for the new mural, by New York artist San Singuenza. It says: “The goal isn’t to live Forever but to create something that will.”


Salt Lake City: Salt Lake County intends to launch a program prioritizing rehabilitation over prison for low-level offenders. The Deseret News reports the county’s criminal justice diversion program is expected to reduce the county prison population. The program intended to prevent individuals from entering the criminal justice system is scheduled to begin Monday and be phased in over the next 12 to 18 months. Officials say the program is expected to divert between 750 and 1,000 individuals per year. Diversion will be offered to those facing new charges and individuals already in the system. The program will intervene at four levels of the process and be based on offender risk assessments. Officials say individuals at all risk levels will qualify for a rehabilitative drug program.


South Burlington: The University of Vermont has upgraded its super computer, and it’s now 200 times faster. The South Burlington computer dubbed “DeepGreen” can achieve the speed of what’s known as a petaflop – equal to one thousand million million computations per second – or the equivalent of 20,000 laptop computers working in tandem. Using a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the upgrade was completed over the winter and spring. Associate physics professor Adrian Del Maestro says the extra processing speed will enable faculty to take on new research projects they could not explore prior to the upgrade. UVM Vice President for Research Richard Galbraith says the additional processing power is “absolutely essential for our faculty to stay at the cutting edge of their disciplines.”


Williamsburg: William & Mary has received a $1 million grant to help fund research into the legacy of slavery and racism at the school as well as at the estate of the nation’s fifth president, James Monroe. The university in Williamsburg said in a statement Wednesday that the grant comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. William & Mary said the five-year grant will fund several initiatives, including genealogy work and an oral history project documenting stories of descendants of enslaved men and women. The project will be executed in part by the school’s Lemon Project, which aims to rectify past wrongs by the school against African Americans. Also involved is Highland, Monroe’s former estate in Charlottesville, which is part of William & Mary.


Spokane: The state has announced plans to kill another member of a pack of wolves that is repeatedly preying on cattle in Ferry County. But conservation groups contend it may be time to consider moving the cattle off public lands. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday that it planned to kill another member of the Old Profanity Territory wolf pack. The agency killed one member of the pack last month in an effort to change the pack’s behavior. But since then the pack is blamed for killing two cattle and injuring five. The pack is credited with a total of 27 depredations since last September. The Lands Council sent the agency a letter last week saying it may be time to move the cattle instead.

West Virginia

Jim Justice
Jim Justice

Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice’s companies owe almost $2 million in delinquent taxes in Virginia, according to records obtained by WDBJ-TV. The Roanoke-based station reports companies owned by the Republican governor owe $1.9 million in taxes to several counties in the neighboring state. Justice lists more than 100 businesses in his most recent financial disclosure statement, including coal, timber and agriculture companies. He has an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion. A representative for the Justice companies issued a statement to the Associated Press saying the businesses “are completely committed and actively working to resolve all tax disputes and liabilities.” The station says it first obtained documents showing more than $2 million in debts, but some of the delinquencies were paid off after it reached out to the companies for comment.


Dodgeville: As worries grow over contamination of rural drinking water, a new study of private wells in southwestern Wisconsin has found the overwhelming majority were contaminated with fecal matter. Results from the independent study released Thursday show 32 of 35 wells – or 91% – contained fecal matter from humans or livestock. Also detected in some of the wells during April testing were illness-causing pathogens such as salmonella, rotavirus and cryptosporidium. The results from Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties are the latest in a series of tests showing an array of problems with well water in the three counties. About one-quarter of the state’s residents get their water from more than 800,000 private wells, according to state figures.


Yellowstone National Park: People can now apply for permits to snowmobile in Yellowstone National Park without a commercial guide during the next winter season. Under a special lottery program, the park allows one group of up to five snowmobiles to enter Yellowstone from each of its four winter entrances per day. This year’s lottery will be open on the website until Aug. 31. Successful applicants will be notified in mid-September. Trips can be for a maximum of three days in length, and permits cost $40 per day with a $6 application fee.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: News from around our 50 states