Alexander City: Schools across the state have been facing food shortages, education officials say. Disruptions in the workforce needed to serve and deliver meals – along with supplies of food and packaging materials – are behind the shortages, Al.com reports. State education officials say every school district in Alabama is facing shortages to some degree. Alexander City Schools recently warned parents that it’s experiencing supply chain issues with its food vendors. In recent weeks, the school system hasn’t received food deliveries because suppliers are short on supplies, drivers and warehouse employees. The school system asked parents to feed breakfast to their students at home if possible. In southeast Alabama, Dothan City Schools asked parents last month to prepare for a possible shift to remote learning due to the district’s food supply issues.
Anchorage: Several Republican state lawmakers are urging easier access to ivermectin amid the pandemic, though that drug is not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for preventing or treating COVID-19. Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes of Palmer said she urged Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state health commissioner to consider supplying Alaskans with vitamins and drugs, including ivermectin, “that some Alaskan physicians are prescribing but pharmacies aren’t filling.” Three Republican House members testified about ivermectin at a recent state pharmacy board meeting, Alaska Public Media reports. “Maybe the pharmacists could be directed – or directed’s the wrong word – suggested that they allow the doctors to actually be doctors and do their jobs,” said Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake. In a letter to the House members after the meeting, the board’s chair, Justin Ruffridge, a Kenai Peninsula pharmacist, noted potential legal liability for pharmacists for drugs they dispense and said pharmacists were free to use their “professional judgment” when deciding whether to fill prescriptions. He said the board has not threatened pharmacists’ licenses around the issue but said reports of misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 “should give most prescribers and pharmacists reason to pause.”
Phoenix: A judge has blocked the state from collecting $1.1 million from the city of Flagstaff to compensate for its minimum wage that is higher than the state’s rate, ruling that the state missed a deadline for the assessment and was stretching a law targeting higher voter-approved city wages to collect its indirect costs. But the ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith released Monday sidestepped the question of whether the assessments are unconstitutional. The state minimum wage reached $12 an hour in 2020 with inflation adjustments after that and now stands at $12.15 an hour. Flagstaff voters in 2016 phased in higher city minimum wages, which hit $15 per hour this year with annual increases thereafter. Smith’s ruling said a law enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2019 targeting higher local minimum wages set a July 31 deadline for setting the yearly assessment. The state missed that deadline. The judge also said the state can’t charge for the indirect costs of Flagstaff’s higher minimum wage, which is what it did in coming up with the $1.1 million figure. The state is exempt from paying the higher minimum wage Flagstaff voters approved in 2016, and the law authorizing assessments does not specifically say the state can calculate the indirect costs of paying contractors.
Little Rock: Lawmakers sent the governor a congressional redistricting plan that critics say weakens the influence of minority voters in the Little Rock area by splitting the state’s most populous county among three U.S. House districts. The measure splits portions of Pulaski County, a heavily Democratic county that includes Little Rock, among the 1st, 2nd and 4th congressional districts. The county is currently in the 2nd District, which Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to flip in recent years. Republicans hold all four of the state’s U.S. House seats and a majority of both chambers of the Legislature. Democrats have criticized the plan for moving predominantly Black and Hispanic precincts out of the 2nd District and accused Republicans of trying make a GOP district even redder. Arkansas is the only former Confederate state that has not elected a Black representative to the U.S. House. “It’s going to disenfranchise African American communities, regardless of the intent,” state Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock, said before the House approved the measure last week. Supporters of the plan say splitting Pulaski County makes sense given its location in the middle of the state. They also say it helps limits the number of counties split up. Opponents of splitting up counties have said it divides up communities and their interests.
Santee: Recordings indicate the pilot of a twin-engine plane nose-dived into a San Diego suburb despite a growingly concerned air traffic controller who repeatedly warned the pilot to climb in altitude – information that will be examined by investigators who arrived at the crash scene Tuesday. The Cessna 340 smashed into a UPS van, killing the driver, and then hit two houses to ignite just after 12 p.m. Monday in Santee, a suburb of 50,000 people east of San Diego. United Parcel Service of America Inc. held a moment of silence Tuesday for van driver Steve Krueger, who was remembered for making work better with his laugh, the company said in a statement. The plane’s owner, an Arizona physician, also died, and an elderly couple whose home went up in flames after it was hit suffered burns. It was unclear whether others were on board the plane. An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash scene Tuesday morning, according to agency spokeswoman Jennifer Gabris. Investigators will review radar data, weather information, air traffic control communication, airplane maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records, she said. The plane had planned to land at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego when it crashed.
Pine: Wildlife officials say an elusive elk that has been wandering the hills with a car tire around its neck for at least two years has finally been freed of the obstruction. The 41/2-year-old, 600-pound bull elk was spotted near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, on Saturday evening and tranquilized, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk’s five-point antlers to remove the encumbrance because they couldn’t slice through the steel in the bead of the tire. “We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic, and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible,” Officer Scott Murdoch said. Murdoch and fellow officer Dawson Swanson estimated the elk shed about 35 pounds with the removal of the tire, the antlers and debris inside the tire. Wildlife officers first spotted the elk with the tire around its neck in July 2019 while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness. They said they have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of items, including swingsets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals and volleyball nets.
Simsbury: A plot of land that was once a thriving tobacco farm where Martin Luther King Jr. worked as a college student in the 1940s will be protected for its historic and cultural significance to the state’s civil rights history. Last month’s finalized sale of the 288-acre parcel of land was announced Friday. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land and the town of Simsbury plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday for the Meadowood site. Nearly 130 acres will be set aside for recreational access and roughly 120 acres for working farmland. The rest will be saved for future needs of the town of Simsbury, while 2 acres will be kept for historic preservation purposes. Simsbury voters in May overwhelmingly authorized $2.5 million to purchase the property. Various state agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the George Dudley Seymour Trust, individuals and foundations have provided an additional $4 million. Historians believe King’s experiences in Connecticut influenced his decision to become a minister and civil rights leader. He was among a group of students from Atlanta’s Morehouse College recruited by tobacco growers to work in the fields to earn money for tuition. “On our way here we saw some things I had never anticipated to see,” King wrote his father in June 1944. “After we passed Washington there was no discrimination at all. The white people here are very nice. We go to any place we want to and sit any where we want to.”
Dover: The state auditor, who is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse, was indicted Monday on public corruption charges. An indictment issued by a New Castle County grand jury charges Kathleen McGuiness, 58, with felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, plus misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict of interest and noncompliance with state procurement laws. Prosecutors said the charges include allegations that McGuiness hired her daughter and one of her daughter’s friends, both high school seniors at the time, as temporary employees in May 2020, even though other temporary employees had to leave their positions because of the lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities said Elizabeth McGuiness, who has not been charged, continued to be paid even after enrolling at a college in South Carolina last August, and she was still listed as an employee as recently as Aug. 28 of this year. She was initially listed as a “public information officer” and later as an “intern.” McGuiness also is charged with orchestrating a 2019 no-bid “communications services” contract for a company she had used as a campaign consultant when running for lieutenant governor in 2016.
District of Columbia
Washington: Howard University and Netflix have announced a $5.4 million endowed scholarship to honor the late actor, writer, producer and Howard alumnus Chadwick Boseman, WUSA-TV reports. The Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship will provide incoming students in the College of Fine Arts, recently named for Boseman, with a four-year scholarship to cover the full cost of tuition, the university said. “This scholarship embodies Chadwick’s love for Howard, his passion for storytelling, and his willingness to support future generations of Howard students,” Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a release. “I am thankful for the continuous support and partnership of Chadwick’s wife, Mrs. Simone Ledward-Boseman, and to Netflix for this important gift.” The scholarship was established with the support of Ledward-Boseman, with Netflix as the inaugural donor. The first four scholarships were earmarked for one recipient in each class beginning this fall, and they’ll continue to be distributed to an incoming freshman every year. The university said the scholarship will focus on students who exemplify exceptional skills in the arts, reminiscent of Boseman, and who demonstrate financial need.
Orlando: The state is investigating dozens of local governments, performing arts centers, the Miami Marlins, a law enforcement counterterrorism unit and a concert by singer Harry Styles for violating a law prohibiting businesses and governments from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. About 120 cases are being reviewed for violations of Florida’s “vaccine passport” law, which took effect last month and can result in a $5,000 fine per violation, according to a public records request from the Orlando Sentinel. The law is being challenged in court and conflicts with a Biden administration order that companies with over 100 employees require them to be vaccinated or face weekly coronavirus testing. In central Florida, the list includes Orange County government; the Orange County Convention Center; AdventHealth, one of the state’s largest health care systems; several performing arts venues; and the Amway Center, which is home to the Orlando Magic and recently hosted a concert by Styles whose tour mandated attendees either be vaccinated or have a negative test. “At this point … the courts have not reached the final decision, but the indication is that the Florida law flies in the face of our Florida Constitution and perhaps in the face of common sense,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told the newspaper.
Atlanta: Officials in Fulton County, where election operations are already under review by the state, have fired two workers accused of shredding paper voter registration applications, according to a county statement released Monday. Preliminary information indicates the employees checked out batches of applications for processing, and they are alleged to have shredded some of the forms, the Fulton County statement said. Fellow employees reported the alleged actions to their supervisor Friday morning, and the two employees were fired that day. The county statement said the applications were received in the past two weeks. Fulton County includes most of the city of Atlanta, where voters are set to go to the polls Nov. 2 to elect a mayor, City Council members and other municipal officials. The deadline to register to vote in that election was Oct. 4. It’s not immediately clear whether the 300 voter registration records in question were lost, county spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said. “Normally, processing a voter registration application involves entering them in the state system, updating them, verifying their information,” she said. “That is the matter that’s under investigation – was that process completed.” Voters don’t register by party in Georgia, so the applications had no party affiliation.
Wailuku: The median sales price of a single-family home in Maui County dropped below $1 million last month as people priced out of the market have chosen to pause their homebuying. The Maui News reports the median sales price for a single-family home in the county stood at $996,500 in September. That’s up 27.3% from the same month last year. But it’s below levels from May through August, when the median topped $1 million for four straight months. Median sales prices for single-family homes in Kauai and Honolulu counties have also topped $1 million this year. The September report from the Realtors Association of Maui said declining affordability has had “a significant impact” on homebuyers who have been priced out of the market. Association President Keone Ball said Sunday that he believes prices will go back up. “The problem is the volume – you know, there isn’t enough for sale,” he said, noting that low inventory combined with high demand for affordable housing is also a nationwide problem. Pending sales decreased 4.3% for single-family homes in Maui County but increased 5.7% for condominiums. Ball said investment in condos may have spiked due to the settling of the COVID-19 pandemic, affordability and condominiums being “the only option.”
Boise: State officials will make available up to $200,000 to be divided into payments for hunters and trappers who kill wolves in the state through next summer. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game late last month entered into an agreement with a nonprofit hunting group to reimburse the expenses for a proven kill. The agreement follows a change in Idaho law aimed at killing more wolves that are blamed for attacking livestock and reducing deer and elk herds. Montana this year also expanded when, where and how wolves can be killed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the request of environmental groups concerned about the expanded wolf killing in the two states, last month announced a yearlong review to see if wolves in the U.S. West should be relisted under the Endangered Species Act. Idaho has managed wolves since they were taken off the list in 2011. State wildlife managers had been incrementally increasing wolf harvest during that time – but not fast enough for lawmakers, who earlier this year passed the law backed by some trappers and the powerful ranching sector. Republican Gov. Brad Little signed the measure lawmakers said could lead to killing 90% of the state’s 1,500 wolves before federal authorities would take over management.
Chicago: Al Capone died nearly 75 years ago, but it’s clear interest in the infamous Chicago gangster is very much alive after some of his prized possessions were auctioned off over the weekend for at least $3 million. The Chicago Tribune reports Capone’s family sold several of his belongings, including what was billed as his favorite gun, at auction in California, where his three surviving granddaughters live. The event, called “A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone,” was held at a private club in Sacramento and attracted nearly 1,000 registered bidders, including 150 who attended the nearly four-hour-long event in person. Among the items up for auction was a bear-shaped humidor as well as diamond jewelry and some family photographs. The most popular item proved to be Capone’s favorite Colt .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, which went for $860,000. The story of Capone, the original “Scarface,” is a familiar one, thanks in large part to a host of movies, television shows and books about the mobster. Called Public Enemy No. 1 after the 1929 “Valentine’s Day Massacre” in which seven members of a rival bootlegger gang were gunned down in a Lincoln Park parking garage, Capone was convicted of income tax evasion in 1934. He spent 11 years locked up in Alcatraz and died of a heart attack in 1947.
Indianapolis: More than 6,600 Afghan refugees who began arriving at the Indiana National Guard’s Camp Atterbury training post nearly six weeks ago are awaiting resettlement. Additional evacuees are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, although it’s unclear how many, said Mark Howell, regional spokesman for the federal Transportation Security Administration overseeing Operation Allies Welcome. Officials said they’re also uncertain if the refugees will be permanently resettled by early November, as hoped. Howell said Friday that many Afghans are still completing medical and security screening checks. Once cleared, they’ll work with nongovernmental organizations to determine housing assignments, sponsor families and work authorizations before they can leave the post. Camp Atterbury, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis, is one of eight sites in the U.S. that the Department of Defense is using for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other Afghan personnel. Exodus Refugee Immigration, an Indianapolis agency, has helped at least four Afghan families resettle in the city in the past month, Executive Director Cole Varga said. They were all U.S. citizens or had visas and family ties to the area. It’s unclear how many Afghans have resettled in Indiana, but the state is projected to take 490, according to U.S. officials.
Des Moines: A judge has found a local activist guilty of a felony theft count for taking a police flyer used to identify protesters from an officer’s back pocket during a protest last year. Alexandria Dea, 27, was found guilty of first-degree theft Monday by Judge David Porter after she waived her right to a jury trial and consented to allow the judge to base his decision on facts already on the record. Dea is expected to seek a deferred judgment when she’s sentenced Dec. 7. Prosecutors have said Dea picked up and threw a police radio that fell to the ground as the officer scuffled with a protester July 1, 2020. She was also accused of taking the intelligence bulletin from an officer’s back pocket during the confrontation, then giving it to another Black Lives Matter activist who gave it to a television reporter. Dea and the other activist had also initially been charged with a rarely used count of leaking intelligence data, but the charge was dismissed in July after a judge ruled that the bulletin did not count as “intelligence data.”
Kansas City: An organization run by rapper Jay-Z has facilitated donations totaling $1 million for an effort to investigate wrongful convictions in Wyandotte County. The money was raised by Team Roc, which is the criminal justice division of Jay-Z’s entertainment organization, Roc Nation, the Kansas City Star reports. Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, called it “a huge investment,” adding that the ability to look at these cases is going to shine a light on what the group needs to do to provide a just criminal legal system in Wyandotte County. Among those injustices is the wrongful conviction of Lamonte McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for two murders he did not commit in Kansas City, Kansas. Another is the case of Olin “Pete” Coones Jr., who spent 12 years in prison before he was exonerated of a Wyandotte County murder – only to die from cancer that went undiagnosed 108 days after he was freed. About 40 others have asked the innocence project to investigate their convictions in Wyandotte County, Rojo Bushnell said Monday. In September, Team Roc filed a petition seeking records from the Kansas City, Kansas, police department related to what it calls a history of officer misconduct within the agency.
Louisville: The city has agreed to pay $75,000 to a couple who say police removed them from their car and frisked them because they were Black and driving a nice vehicle. But in an unusual condition of the payment, the couple and their lawyers are forbidden from criticizing the Louisville Metro Government or the police officers involved. The prohibition includes criticisms in statements to the media or on social media, according to a copy of the settlement obtained under open records laws. Michael Abate, a lawyer for the Louisville Courier Journal and the Kentucky Press Association, said the stipulations are “totally improper.” “The city is paying to silence its critics,” he said. “It is paying them off. And it seems designed to impede reform. It is bad policy and really troubling.” In a statement, First Assistant County Attorney Ingrid Geiser said the couple “are not prohibited from talking truthfully about what happened during their traffic stop,” though she said the language “should have more accurately reflected the agreement of the parties.” In their federal lawsuit, Anthony Parker Sr. and Demetria Firman, who are now married, say they were pulled over in 2018 for failing to use a turn signal, but body camera footage from one of the officers showed their turn signal was on.
Baton Rouge: The state’s problem of wasted COVID-19 vaccine shots continues to balloon, with about 224,000 doses thrown out across Louisiana as health providers can’t find enough residents willing to roll up their sleeves. The number of trashed doses has nearly tripled since the end of July, even as the state grappled with a fourth, deadly surge of the coronavirus pandemic during that time that led to increased interest in the vaccines. The latest data provided by the Louisiana Department of Health showed 223,918 doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been thrown out. That’s relatively small compared to the 4.4 million vaccine doses administered around the state. But while waste is not uncommon in mass immunization efforts, the throwing away of doses in the United States comes as millions of people around the globe still are waiting for the opportunity to get inoculated against COVID-19. Most of Louisiana’s wasted vaccine doses happened because vials containing the shots were opened, but hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other providers couldn’t find someone to take the doses, health department spokesperson Kevin Litten said. More than 21,500 shots simply weren’t used before their expiration dates. Louisiana has one of the nation’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Augusta: Environmental regulators will soon undertake a statewide investigation to find concentrations of long-lasting environmental pollutants. The investigation stems from the state’s efforts to mitigate a class of chemicals known as PFAS, also called “forever chemicals.” The substances are a problem in some parts of Maine because of the long-standing use of municipal sludge and paper mill waste as farm fertilizer, the Portland Press Herald reports. The state set aside $30 million to test for the chemicals and install filtration systems in areas with contaminated water. Maine officials also plan to help farmers and start cleaning up sites, the Press Herald reports. Maine is hiring and training 17 new staff members for the effort. The state needs to decide which of more than 500 sludge application sites should be prioritized for testing. Sewage sludge as farm fertilizer has caused environmental problems in other parts of the country as well. The chemicals also carry human health risks.
Gaithersburg: Four police officers will not be charged for fatally shooting a Black man they said fired first during a late-night foot chase in January. A grand jury declined to charge the officers from the Gaithersburg Police Department due to lack of evidence in a decision announced last week. The officers, members of a plainclothes street crimes unit, told investigators they saw a “muzzle flash” from a gun aimed at them by Kwamena Ocran, 24, according to their recorded statements released by Montgomery County prosecutors. One officer said he heard a round pass by his head. All four fired on Ocran, who was running away from them. He was hit eight times, according to a report from prosecutors. The shooting happened outside an apartment complex after officers said they received a tip that Ocran was illegally carrying a gun he intended to sell, according to the report. The incident was not recorded on video. Another officer arrived at the scene moments later and recorded footage of a gun next to Ocran’s body, but investigators could not find evidence he had fired it. Crime scene technicians failed to find shell casings from Ocran’s gun – only the 23 shell casings from the officers’ guns, prosecutors said. Howard County Deputy State’s Attorney Christopher Sandmann told The Washington Post that investigators had prepped Ocran’s hands for gunshot reside analysis, but there was a “mistake or miscommunication,” and his hands were never swabbed.
Boston: A letter written by founding father Alexander Hamilton during the Revolutionary War and believed stolen decades ago from the state archives has been returned following a federal appeals court decision, officials said Tuesday. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin hailed the homecoming, after last week’s decision by the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling by a district court judge. The letter was reputedly stolen between 1938 and 1945 by a “kleptomaniacal cataloguer” who worked at the archives, according to the court decision. Hamilton wrote the letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who served as a general in the Continental Army. Dated July 21, 1780, the letter resulted in Massachusetts sending troops to Rhode Island “to bolster the embattled French forces,” the appeals court wrote. Galvin, whose office oversees the archives and the Commonwealth Museum, said he was pleased the court ruled “that this historical treasure belongs to the people.” The letter is expected to be put on display at the museum for special events, including the annual Independence Day celebration, Galvin said.
Center Line: An employee at a suburban Detroit nursing home filled out absentee ballot applications for two dozen residents without consulting them before the 2020 election, authorities said Monday. The case was one of three cases of alleged fraud announced by the state. “Our election system is secure, and today’s charges demonstrate that in the rare circumstances when fraud occurs, we catch it and hold the perpetrators accountable,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. A woman who worked at the Father Murray home in Center Line was charged with election forgery and signature forgery. In another case, a Detroit woman was accused of signing her grandson’s name on an absentee ballot and returning it, even though he had decided to vote at a polling place. In a third investigation, a woman who served as a guardian was charged in several communities after authorities said she fraudulently submitted 26 absentee ballot applications and sought to have ballots mailed directly to her. Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel praised local election officials for noticing irregularities. “We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who attempts to undermine our elections,” Nessel said.
Beaver Bay: A Lake Superior lighthouse plans to welcome visitors back for an annual memorial honoring the sailors who died when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. Every Nov. 10, the day the ship sank in a gale in 1975, the Split Rock Lighthouse just south of Beaver Bay holds a beacon lighting. Lighthouse officials announce the names of all 29 sailors who died as a bell tolls, Minnesota Public Radio reports. The lighthouse didn’t allow visitors to attend last year’s ceremony because of COVID-19 concerns. People had to listen through an online livestream. Lighthouse officials say this year’s ceremony will be a hybrid, with the lighthouse grounds open to the public and a livestream on the Minnesota Historical Society’s Facebook and YouTube pages for those who can’t attend. The ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. “There’s something about being here on site and hearing the bell ring and the names being read off and then seeing the beacon turned on right after that. There’s just something very special about that,” said Hayes Scriven, the lighthouse site manager. “It’s just a way to connect with the past and remember that Lake Superior is a fickle animal, and you’ve got to respect the power and not take it for granted.”
Jackson: The Mississippi Book Festival is being shown online after the in-person event was canceled because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers say videos of 31 panel discussions have been recorded in the past month. Those became available Tuesday on the festival’s website, msbookfestival.com. “We’ve got an amazing group of authors and moderators who have rallied to record more than 35 hours of great conversations about books and writing,” Executive Director Ellen Daniels said in a news release. “Honoring these writers and continuing to engage our loyal and growing community of book lovers is what the festival is all about.” Among the authors speaking are Curtis Wilkie, Kiese Laymon, Nic Stone, W. Ralph Eubanks, Jerry Mitchell, Catherine Pierce, Beth Ann Fennelly, Mitch Landrieu, William Ferris, Angie Thomas, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Robert Khayat and Kai Bird. The festival originally was scheduled for Aug. 21 at the Mississippi Capitol and nearby Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson. Organizers switched to the online format because the state was experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases at the time.
Kansas City: Data shows that most of the people who participated in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery were already immunized before the program started. The incentive program was started in July as Missouri struggled to control a surge of coronavirus cases driven by the more transmissible delta variant in less-vaccinated communities. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services conducted the last of the drawings in the program Friday. Among the participants, 57,117 adults got the shot after the program was announced, while nearly 600,000 got the shot beforehand, The Kansas City Star reports. The program also had more than 39,000 entries from children 12 and up. In total, the state will pay out $9 million to 900 prizewinners, who will each receive $10,000 in either cash or, for the youth winners, scholarship accounts. Anyone who had gotten at least one dose of a vaccine was eligible to enter, but separate drawings were conducted for those who had already gotten a shot, making the odds of winning higher for the newly vaccinated. Just over 48% of Missouri’s total population is fully vaccinated now, up from about 40% when the incentive program was announced.
Helena: All local calls in the state must be dialed with the 406 area code to connect beginning Oct. 24 due to changing federal regulations. Montana’s 406 area code currently allows seven-digit dialing to complete local calls. That will change this month due to a Federal Communications Commission order designating 988 as the new nationwide number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Some seven-digit phone numbers in Montana’s 406 area code begin with 988. To prevent misdialing the 988 Lifeline, all local calls in Montana must be dialed with the area code. Calls that are currently considered local for billing purposes will continue to be billed as local calls. Existing seven-digit phone numbers will not change but will require the 406 area code to connect. Three-digit dialing services, such as the 911 emergency number, will continue to work as a three-digit number with no need to dial an area code. Along with manually dialed calls, all services that use automated dialing will need to be updated to include 10-digit phone numbers. The 988 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available beginning July 16, 2022.
Omaha: Police are investigating after downtown pedestrians were forced to dodge deck chairs, tables and bricks thrown from a rooftop. The Omaha World-Herald reports the incident happened Saturday night when items were thrown from the roof of the nine-story Old Market Lofts apartments. Omaha resident Lisa Brauer told the newspaper she was nearly struck by several objects. Brauer, who works for Park Omaha, was checking parking meters when she was nearly hit by a rock. That was followed by a metal table, a metal chair and a grill rack, all landing within inches of her. A police report said a pickup truck was hit by something and sustained $2,000 in damage. No arrests have been made.
Reno: Two historic locomotives that were part of the pioneering shift from steam-powered to diesel-electric trains in the mid-1900s are coming back to their home in a northeast Nevada railyard. Built in 1951, Locomotive 201 is the last survivor among 38 experimental models manufactured by the American Locomotive Company. It is scheduled to be loaded onto a truck Nov. 2 at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, Washington, where it still sometimes pulls excursion trains on the museum’s Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. The truck hauling the 286,000-pound engine will take four or five days at a top speed of about 35 mph to make the 900-mile trip back to Ely at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum near the Nevada-Utah line, railway President Mark Bassett said. Details are still pending for the return from Delta, Utah, of the No. 401, the first special-duty model General Motors built in 1952 in its Electro-Motive Division. It was the only one painted in the “Desert War Bonnet” scheme, a cream, scarlet and black design that remains on it today. It became known as the “Last Empress of Ely.” “These both are one-of-a-kind locomotives,” Bassett said. “Both have a story to tell, and they are both tied into the early days of dieselization of the Nevada Northern Railway.” The museum plans to restore each and eventually return them to operation for tour rides.
Concord: For the first time, New Hampshire’s only state-run psychiatric treatment facility has negotiated contracts with all major insurance carriers in the state. Carriers now under contract with New Hampshire Hospital include Aetna, Ambetter, Anthem, Cigna, Harvard Pilgrim and United Health Care, state officials said. “Over the past few years, we have made significant strides to rebuild New Hampshire’s mental health system, and those critical efforts will continue,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement. “Having insurer contracts in place is an important step and will help alleviate the financial uncertainty that has been a challenge for patients at New Hampshire Hospital for decades.” Previously, special case agreements were negotiated on a patient-by-patient basis. However, some care was uncompensated. The practice of New Hampshire Hospital is to accept all patients regardless of insurance coverage. New Hampshire Hospital is currently the only inpatient institute for adults with serious mental illnesses in the state.
Trenton: No one understands the stress a nurse faces on the job better than another nurse. And nothing has caused more stress for nurses than the COVID pandemic, as front-line caregivers guard against exposure to the coronavirus, witness patient deaths, and worry about family members and friends becoming infected. A confidential mental health help line, staffed by current and retired nurses, was launched Monday for nurses and their family members in the state. The Nurse2Nurse help line – at 844-687-7301 – is based at Rutgers Behavioral Health Services and available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. “It’s in our hearts to help the healers,” said Barbara Brilliantine, one of the nurses staffing the help line. “We’ve walked in their shoes.” The counselors include active and retired nurses who receive training in reciprocal peer support and wellness principles and are mental health and peer support specialists. Services are also available through virtual support groups, wellness webinars and other resources at nurse2nursenj.com. Information provided on the calls is confidential, the sponsors say. The website says the project is not affiliated with any health care system or nursing organization, and no information from the calls will be shared with employers, co-workers or peers.
Santa Fe: The final price tag for a settlement reached by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and a former campaign spokesman to settle accusations of harassment is now $150,000. The latest round of payments was disclosed in a mandatory campaign finance report that the Democrat’s campaign filed Monday. The twice-annual report on spending and contributions shows the incumbent has raised $2.5 million since April for her reelection bid as several Republicans are vying to take back the office. GOP state Rep. Rebecca Dow raised more than $440,500 since announcing her candidacy in early July. Her campaign said she has received contributions from more than 1,300 donors. In the settlement involving Lujan Grisham, former campaign staffer James Hallinan had accused Lujan Grisham of dropping water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch in the midst of a campaign staff meeting prior to the election – accusations that the governor denies. Lujan Grisham said earlier this year that she decided to resolve the matter because she wanted to focus her attention on the pandemic. At the time, the governor said there hadn’t been any other financial settlements and nondisclosure agreements of a similar nature.
Albany: Recreational marijuana legalization is moving into a new phase. After stifling staff delays brought on by political infighting, newly minted members of the state Cannabis Control Board are now interpreting and shaping the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the cannabis law approved by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers last spring. Much of what the redefined medical cannabis program and the implementation of the potentially lucrative legal market will look like in the Empire State is in the purview of the five-person panel, which had its first meeting last week. The board must do that work while putting particular emphasis on social equity and repairing the harms done during the substance’s prohibition. Already, language in the law has legalized possession of 3 ounces of cannabis for people 21 and over. However, some of the regulations for localities, as well as the licensing process and social equity provisions, have yet to materialize. Kristin Jordan of Park Jordan, a commercial real estate brokerage and cannabis industry advisory firm, said the cannabis regulators don’t have a model in other states in how to legalize while accentuating social equity. “So I think more than anything we’ve got a roadmap of what didn’t work,” said Jordan, the firm’s founder and CEO.
Raleigh: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is facing calls to resign from elected officials and LGBTQ advocacy groups over comments he made criticizing sexual education and likening gay and transgender people to “filth.” “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove. The state’s highest Republican executive officeholder, already the focus of criticism for trying to influence how racism can be discussed in public schools, is getting more pushback since Right Wing Watch, a project of the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way, posted the video on social media last week. The Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina, prominent Democratic lawmakers and the White House have condemned the remarks, with some demanding the lieutenant governor’s resignation. In a video posted on his Facebook page Saturday, Robinson narrated over images depicting gay sex that were taken from “Gender Queer,” an illustrated book he claimed “is currently in North Carolina schools,” though it wasn’t mentioned in the 831-page report he released in August highlighting cases of alleged “indoctrination.” In 2017, Robinson wrote: “You CAN NOT love God and support the homosexual agenda.”
Bismarck: State wildlife officials are urging people to keep an eye out for migrating whooping cranes. The North Dakota Fish and Game Department says a portion of a population of 500 cranes is crossing the state on a 2,500-mile migration from nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to wintering grounds in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. The agency says anyone who spots cranes should leave them alone but record the date, time and location along with the birds’ activities and report the sighting to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reports help biologists locate crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, and determine population numbers and migration routes.
Nelsonville: Thanks to a long-forgotten state law from 1953 and a community dinner, the city has challenged the results of the 2020 U.S. census. The results of last year’s count had downgraded the Athens County community from a city to a village after counting 4,612 residents – a 780-person drop from the 2010 census. Under Ohio law, the 5,000-resident level demarcates the difference between a city and a village. “We knew it was wrong,” City Auditor Taylor Sappington said. On Tuesday morning, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose agreed, restoring Nelsonville’s city status. Sappington set out to prove the city’s case by collecting census information and signatures from the town’s 5,373 residents. After a preliminary federal census report demotes a city to a village, state law gives a city auditor the authority to conduct a re-enumeration if the municipality’s governing body passes a resolution directing the auditor to do so, according to a statute in the Ohio Revised Code. After the City Council took that action, Sappington appointed five enumerators, who canvassed each block of Nelsonville over 10 days. Last week, volunteers served ham, green beans, cheesy potatoes, salad and rolls donated by Texas Roadhouse at a free community dinner where residents could come down to the town square to be counted, Sappington told council members Monday night. “I’m so proud of this community,” he said.
Tulsa: The city and Tulsa County have each announced they will officially recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. June 19 will be an additional paid holiday for city and county employees beginning in 2022. June 19, 1865, is the day Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas – some 21/2years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves in Southern states. “Juneteenth is an important day in our country’s history, and I’m glad we are able to celebrate freedom for all Americans in this way by joining Tulsa County in adding Juneteenth to our official holiday schedule,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement Monday announcing the holiday. A 1921 massacre in Tulsa left an estimated 300 Black people dead at the hands of white mobs. Then-President Donald Trump scheduled his first campaign rally amid the coronavirus pandemic for June 19, 2020, in Tulsa but later rescheduled the rally for the following day amid widespread criticism from Black leaders. In June, President Joe Biden signed legislation officially recognizing the day as a federal holiday.
Salem: Former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and three other Republicans have filed a lawsuit to challenge new congressional districts recently passed by state lawmakers. They say the new maps are partisan gerrymandering, unconstitutional and contrary to state law. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the suit, filed Monday in Marion County Circuit Court, is the first such attempt to alter the six-district map that Democrats pushed through during a contentious special legislative session last month. That session nearly ended in a Republican walkout after House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, reneged on a deal to grant the GOP an equal say in new congressional and legislative maps. Instead, Republican lawmakers showed up on the last possible day and allowed Democrats to pass a map that could lead to Democratic control of five of the state’s now-six seats in Congress. Oregon picked up an additional U.S. House seat because of population gains recorded by the recent U.S. census. The suit notes that four of the state’s six new congressional districts include part of the Portland metro area, which the Republicans say is a sign Democrats improperly stocked the districts with left-leaning voters. They have asked the court to block the plan and draw its own.
Harrisburg: Total enrollment at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities has declined to the lowest level in decades, according to data released Monday. The State System of Higher Education figures indicate loss of another 5,000-plus students this fall, dropping the universities’ total enrollment below 89,000 students – a level not seen in more than three decades, dating nearly to the system’s founding, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. PennLive.com reports the percentage drop in enrollment was the highest in well over two decades. System officials earlier warned state lawmakers and others that the 2021-22 year would be a “very challenging” one for enrollment, citing factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The system, founded in 1983, saw its enrollment peak at about 119,500 students in 2010 but saw the total drop to 94,000 last year. A review of system data indicates that the current total below 89,000 is lower than in any year since 1989, the Post-Gazette reports. Chancellor Dan Greenstein said the drop likely stems from the pandemic finally catching up with the system, which had avoided the declines other institutions saw last year. He said anecdotal accounts point to the pandemic’s impact on family incomes and students taking advantage of $15 and $20 per hour wages some firms are offering.
Providence: Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to spend up to $1.6 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to establish nonviolence training and youth mentorship programs to address an increase in violence in the city. Providence recently opened requests for proposals for both initiatives, planning to allocate up to $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for training and up to $1.1 million for mentorship. Elorza said the idea began taking shape in May when nine people were injured in a shooting. “I reached out to some community leaders, sort of on the front line of things, and I asked them to put me in contact with families, mothers who had lost children, people who were either on parole or on probation, but were trying to turn their life around, and other folks who are on the front lines of living and working with these issues,” Elorza said. It became clear that the city was in need of more opportunities for youth, he said. There have been 20 homicides in the city this year. The five-year average for this point in the year is 11.
Columbia: The South Carolina State Fair returns Wednesday after a hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s event was drive-thru only due to a high number of COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials reported that such cases have dropped below 1,000 for the first time since July. More than 50% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated against the disease caused by the virus. State fair officials have instituted new protocols to prevent the virus’s spread, including increased cleaning, hygiene signage, hand sanitizer stations and reminding guests that in Columbia they must wear a face covering, WIS-TV reports. Guests are also encouraged to socially distance, use card and touchless methods for payments, and not come to the fair if they aren’t feeling well. The event, which runs through Oct. 24, includes rides, food, agriculture and livestock shows, crafts, art and a cookie kitchen.
Sioux Falls: Lawmakers redrawing the state’s political boundaries kicked off a three-day tour of public input meetings Monday amid intraparty Republican bickering and competing proposals for new legislative districts. The House and Senate committees, both dominated by Republicans, had previously sought accord in the once-in-a-decade process. But at a public input meeting in Box Elder, the schism between the House and Senate was on full display during the tour, dubbed “the redistricting roadshow” by lawmakers. The Legislature will convene Nov. 8 to consider new political boundaries, which must also be approved by Gov. Kristi Noem. If they can’t reach a consensus by Dec. 1, redistricting would be determined by the state Supreme Court. As Republicans accused each other of gerrymandering and “D.C. political tactics,” members of Native American communities used the meetings to press for greater representation in the Legislature. At the first meeting Monday, advocates pushed for compact political boundaries around northern Rapid City, which has a large number of Native Americans, that would allow the community to elect someone who represents its interests. The lawmakers are making seven stops this week, culminating with two meetings in Sioux Falls on Wednesday.
Nashville: A federal judge on Tuesday slightly tweaked his order requiring Knox County schools to implement a school mask mandate, saying officials would be allowed to approve exemptions on a case-by-case basis. In his 14-page ruling, however, U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer warned school officials – who had previously refused to adopt a mask mandate amid the COVID-19 outbreak – that the new mask exemption policy must not be abused. “The court reminds the Knox County Board of Education that its school system is no longer under a voluntary mask mandate; rather, it is under a court-ordered mask mandate,” Greer wrote. “The record evidence supports the need for – and the court ordered – a universal mask mandate, and the court fully expects its mask mandate to be exactly that: universal, to every possible extent, with ‘very few’ medical exemptions.” The Knox County Board of Education must file monthly status reports that identify not only the number of exemptions for students, employees and visitors but also the specific reasons for the exemptions. Greer said he would impose “considerable sanctions” if the education board did not comply with his latest order.
Houston: The state’s child welfare agency is being accused of removing a webpage that provided information about a suicide prevention hotline and other resources for young LGBTQ people, following criticism by one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s primary challengers. The Houston Chronicle reports Abbott challenger Don Huffines posted a video on Twitter in August accusing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth.” Within hours of the video being posted, the webpage was removed. The page appeared in a section of the agency’s website called “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.” Also gone was the entire website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people in foster care to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page. “These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” Huffines said in his video. Abbott, who appoints the department’s commissioner and nine-member council, didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment. Agency communications obtained through a public records request show that employees discussed removing the page in response to Huffines’ tweet.
Salt Lake City: Lawyers for Gov. Spencer Cox’s former campaign manager, who resigned last week after an investigation substantiated claims of sexual misconduct made against him by a female campaign employee, are calling the accusations baseless. In a statement Friday, lawyers representing Austin Cox said the relationship in question was a long-term one between two young adults that he ended earlier this year, KUTV reports. “Our client unequivocally and emphatically denies any allegations to the contrary,” the statement said. The Republican governor said Thursday that an independent investigation found cause to terminate Austin Cox, his 2020 campaign manager, but he resigned before its completion. The investigation also revealed previously unreported “hostile conduct” toward other members of the team. Austin Cox’s attorneys on Friday additionally criticized a joint statement from the governor and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson on Thursday that condemned the former campaign manager’s behavior. KUTV requested to speak with Austin Cox on Friday, but his attorney declined their request for an interview. The governor and former campaign manager are not related.
Bennington: An Abraham Lincoln statue at a museum was vandalized with the number “38,” which police say they believe is a reference to the execution of 38 Native Americans ordered by the former president in 1862. Police said an employee at the Bennington Museum arrived Sunday morning to find a large “LAND BACK” banner had been put up between two light poles at the entrance to the museum’s courtyard. The Lincoln statue in the courtyard had reddish spray paint on its face and hands, along with the number “38” painted on its chest, police said. Officials said it is expected to cost several thousand dollars to repair the statue and remove the paint. Police said they believe the vandalism is a reference to the Dakota 38, who were executed after the 1862 Dakota War, also known as the Sioux Uprising of 1862. A military commission sentenced 303 Sioux fighters to be executed. Lincoln reviewed the cases and decided there was evidence that 39 Sioux were guilty of murder or rape during the uprising and ordered their execution. The remaining 264 sentences were commuted. One of those sentenced to be executed received a reprieve. The Bennington Museum describes itself as a museum of art, history and innovation.
Richmond: Former President Barack Obama will campaign with fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final stretch of the gubernatorial race. “The stakes could not be greater,” McAuliffe said as he announced the news Tuesday morning on MSNBC. McAuliffe’s race against the GOP nominee, first-time political candidate Glenn Youngkin, is tightening, according to the latest polls. His effort to win a second, nonconsecutive term in office is one of only two regularly scheduled governor’s races in the country this year and is being closely watched for indications of voter sentiment ahead of next year’s midterms. McAuliffe’s campaign announced that Obama will join him in Richmond on Oct. 23 to mobilize Virginians during early voting, which began weeks ago and runs in person through Oct. 30. Obama rallied Democrats in Virginia’s capital city in 2017 before Ralph Northam beat Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie by nearly 9 percentage points. He’ll follow other high-profile Democrats visiting the commonwealth to support McAuliffe. First lady Jill Biden is set to visit on Friday. Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist, grassroots organizer and former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will campaign with McAuliffe in Norfolk and northern Virginia on Sunday.
Seattle: Rewards totaling $2.5 million are now being offered for information that helps solve the killing of federal prosecutor Thomas C. Wales in Seattle 20 years ago. Nicholas Brown, newly sworn in as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, announced Monday at a ceremony marking the anniversary of Wales’ death that the Justice Department had doubled its reward to $2 million, in addition to about $500,000 being offered by the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys. Brown also said his office – long recused from the case – is taking on leadership of the investigation, as there are few remaining assistant U.S. attorneys in Seattle who worked with Wales. The investigation had been overseen by a special prosecutor in New York, Steve Clymer; transferring the oversight to Seattle will allow for fresh eyes and additional resources, Brown said. “Twenty years is far too long for this crime – this attack on the American justice system – to go unresolved,” Brown said. Wales was an 18-year veteran of the U.S. attorney’s office who focused on white-collar crime and also served as president of a gun-control group called Washington CeaseFire. A gunman shot him through a basement window of his home Oct. 11, 2001.
Charleston: Lawmakers endorsed proposed maps of congressional and state legislative districts during a special session on redistricting Monday, setting up a potential fight between two of the state’s current members of Congress. West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, and lawmakers are trying to redraw the state into two congressional districts. In the proposed map, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney would be in the same district. All three current U.S. House members from West Virginia are Republicans. The state Senate redistricting committee forwarded its versions of congressional and state Senate maps Monday. Earlier in the day, a map that reconfigures all 100 House of Delegates seats into separate, single-member districts was endorsed by a House committee. The maps now go before the committees’ respective full chambers. The congressional redistricting map endorsed by the House committee would split the state roughly into north and south sections. The 1st District would include both panhandles and much of the northern part of the state along with Wood County on the western edge. The 2nd District would include the southern coalfields and the Greenbrier Valley, extending north into Ritchie County.
Madison: The state’s Democratic attorney general, who represents the state elections commission, on Monday called for a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election to be shut down, saying it is a partisan political effort that lacks credibility, wastes taxpayer money and is not serious. “This investigation suffers from glaring flaws that destroy any credibility its results could have had,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said at a news conference. “Shut this fake investigation down.” Kaul’s comments came after the Republican leader of the Assembly election committee said she’s been kept out of the loop and doesn’t agree with moves being made by the leader of the probe. The latest twists comes after Michael Gableman, the retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice leading the investigation, issued a video over the weekend taking aim at Gov. Tony Evers. The Democratic governor told local election officials they should be “lawyered up” and called the taxpayer-funded investigation a “$700,000 boondoggle.” Gableman called that “an incomplete and misguided view” of the probe. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos ordered the investigation under pressure from Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed he won Wisconsin last year.
Cody: Rapper, music producer and clothing entrepreneur Kanye West has put his ranch and business properties in northwestern Wyoming up for sale. The West Ranch, formerly known as Monster Lake Ranch, went on the market Monday for $11 million. The property sprawls across 6 square miles of open land and tree-studded hills and outcrops about 6 miles south of Cody. The property features lakes, a lodge, a commercial kitchen, equipment sheds, a horse facility, corrals and a go-kart track, according to the DBW Realty listing. The listing came days after West listed his seven commercial properties in Cody for more than $3.2 million, the Cody Enterprise reports. The ranch, which leases additional land owned by the U.S. government, was listed for $13.3 million before West bought it in 2019, though it’s unknown how much he paid for the property. Wyoming law does not provide for public disclosure of real estate sale amounts. West moved from California to Wyoming in 2019 and set about basing at least some of his clothing business in Cody, a city of about 10,000 on the eastern approach to Yellowstone National Park. It wasn’t clear if the property sales mean West is leaving Wyoming or just reorganizing his business there.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: School food shortages, elk sheds tire: News from around our 50 states