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A site to cover the study of the military, political and sociological history of the American Civil War.

Sled dog reunion, Ali stamp push, pothole spat: News from around our 50 states

Alabama

Montgomery: Mike Durant, the “Black Hawk Down” pilot who finished third in the state’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, said he will not make an endorsement in the upcoming runoff. Durant said he will not back either of the remaining candidates for the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. The June 21 runoff pits Katie Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff and former leader of a state business group, against U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who resurrected his campaign after losing ex-President Donald Trump’s backing. Durant said the choices are a candidate who has “been in the public office for 40 years” and another he called “really not qualified” and accused of running an ethically challenged campaign that distorted his views. “That’s what people have to decide. Unfortunately, it’s not a great option,” he said. Durant is the owner of an aerospace company but best known as the helicopter pilot who was held captive in Somalia during the 1993 battle chronicled in “Black Hawk Down.” With his military background, Durant entered the race with a splash but ultimately ended in third place. He said his first foray into politics was a disenchanting one and will also be his last. He blamed his campaign’s demise on a bombardment of negative ads he called “blatant” mistruths. “If people say, well, ‘that’s just politics’ – well, then don’t complain about what we have in Washington. That’s not politics. Wrong is wrong,” Durant said.

Alaska

Iditarod musher Sebastien Dos Santos Borges, of France, and sled dog Leon arrive in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday after being reunited. After going missing in March, Leon was expected to see a veterinarian in the coming days and needs a health certificate before he can fly back to France, Iditarod spokesperson Shannon Markley said.

Ruby: An Iditarod sled dog was found safe after disappearing from a checkpoint in the race three months ago and covering nearly 150 miles, the Iditarod Trail Committee said Saturday. Musher Sebastien Dos Santos Borges, of France, was picking Leon up and returning with him to France, the trail committee said in a statement. Leon went missing in March after what the trail committee said was his “escape” from the Ruby checkpoint. In May, residents of the Alaska city of McGrath, over 120 miles south of the checkpoint, reported to race director Mark Nordman that they’d seen Leon frequently near a cabin. The resident of the cabin and another musher left food for Leon in the hopes of catching him, according to the trail committee. He was captured early Saturday morning and was safe, alert and “understandably skinny but seemingly healthy,” said Iditarod spokesperson Shannon Markley. Leon was expected to see a veterinarian in the coming days and needs a health certificate before he can fly back to France, Markley said. The nearly 1,000-mile race across Alaska began March 6 just north of Anchorage. The route took mushers along Alaska’s untamed and unforgiving wilderness, including two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River and Bering Sea ice along the state’s western coastline.

Arizona

Phoenix: A lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party and its firebrand leader, Kelli Ward, urged a judge Friday to invalidate the state’s overwhelmingly popular system of mail-in voting, a process used by about 90% of voters. Voting by mail is inconsistent with the Arizona Constitution’s requirement for a secret ballot, attorney Alex Kolodin argued. He urged a Mohave County judge to ban the practice for nearly all voters in the 2022 general election in November – but not for the primary in August, for which ballots are scheduled to be mailed next month. The case is the latest in a multipronged effort by Ward and the state GOP to roll back a system of no-excuse absentee voting that the GOP-controlled Legislature has adopted since 1991. They’ve pushed to require most people to cast a ballot in person on Election Day as ex-President Donald Trump repeats the lie that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud in Arizona and other battleground states. Only the voters, not the Legislature, can authorize mail voting by amending the constitution, Kolodin argued. Lawyers for state and county election officials as well as the Arizona Democratic Party said the vote-by-mail laws have plenty of secrecy safeguards built in, and nothing in the state constitution prohibits the Legislature from allowing citizens to vote that way.

Arkansas

Fort Smith: Local organizations are coming together to celebrate Juneteenth, offering events throughout the holiday weekend. 64.6 Downtown and the Fort Smith Roundtable are partnering to offer the city free live music Thursday, June 16, and Sunday, June 19. Juneteenth occurs on June 19 and celebrates the day in 1865 when Galveston, Texas, slaves learned of their freedom, about 21/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This marks the second year that Juneteenth has been recognized as a federal holiday. “So now that it is a federally recognized holiday we feel it’s important for the city to show a consistent, organized celebration,” said Clifton Culpepper, with the Fort Smith Round Table. The city of Fort Smith, Walmart, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and Punkin Pictures also partnered to put on Juneteenth events Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, according to a press release. At 6 p.m. Friday, the organizations will present the Making History Gala at Freedom Farms. The evening will include a cocktail hour and dinner by Chef James Thomas of The Rialto Restaurant. There will also be performances by local and regional musicians. The play “A Raisin in the Sun” will debut at 7 p.m. Saturday at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center.

California

Elise Schering, 7, displays a message during a National Gun Violence Awareness rally at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday. In

Sacramento: The state is spending $11 million on education programs promoting wider use of “red flag” laws that are designed to temporarily take guns away from people who are deemed at risk of harming themselves or others, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday. The money was included in the state budget he approved nearly a year ago, but the programs are now getting underway. Newsom announced the funding on National Gun Violence Awareness Day and as he continued promoting California’s gun control efforts as a national model in response to recent mass shootings, including in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Uvalde, Texas; and Buffalo, New York. California approved its red flag law in 2014 after an earlier mass shooting. It allows police, loved ones and others to ask judges to approve what are formally known as gun violence restraining orders that temporarily bar someone from possessing firearms if they are found to be a risk to themselves or others. Similar intervention programs are in 19 states and the District of Columbia. But a report last year by the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis Health said most people aren’t aware that the orders are an option. The new 18-month outreach program is designed to expand their use.

Colorado

Lakewood: Investigators say the state’s second-largest wildfire on record was human-caused. The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that the determination was made based on evidence gathered at the origin of the East Troublesome Fire, but it’s still unclear exactly how the blaze started. “Given the location and time of year that the fire started, it may have been caused by a hunter or a backcountry camper, and possibly by accident,” the agency said in a news release, adding that the investigation is ongoing. The fire was reported Oct. 14, 2020, and high winds and drought conditions allowed it to quickly spread through dead and fallen beetle-killed trees. The fire came dangerously close to the town of Estes Park near Rocky Mountain National Park before it was slowed by a late October snowstorm. More than 350 homes were destroyed in the blaze, which scorched more than 300 square miles.

Connecticut

Middletown: A federal appeals court has upheld part of a 2020 police accountability law that allows public disclosure of state trooper personnel files and internal investigations. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Thursday rejected a challenge by the Connecticut State Police Union, which argued the law violates the 2018-2022 troopers’ contract by stripping away its exemptions to state freedom of information laws. The contract section in question says troopers’ personnel files and documents in internal investigations that end with no finding of wrongdoing are not subject to disclosure. A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld a lower court ruling against the union. “Because we conclude that the law the union sought to enjoin was reasonable and necessary to achieve a legitimate public purpose, we identify no error in the District Court’s legal or factual conclusions,” the panel wrote. Proponents of the 2020 law said it answered the calls for reform after the police killings of George Floyd and other Black people. It also created a new state inspector general to investigate police use-of-force cases statewide, limited circumstances in which deadly use of force can be justified, and allowed lawsuits in state courts against officers in certain cases.

Delaware

Dover: State lawmakers on Thursday announced plans to pass major gun reform in the final weeks of the legislative session, including banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons, limiting high-capacity magazines and increasing the purchasing age for most firearms. It comes after a number of mass shootings in America, most notably in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman shot and killed 19 elementary school children and two teachers. Thursday’s announcement showed movement among Delaware Democrats, who in recent years found themselves at a standoff on several gun reform issues. The package of bills, which has the support of Gov. John Carney, also includes strengthening background checks by reinstituting the Firearm Transaction Approval Program; holding gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions that lead to gun violence; and banning the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons. The bill to limit high-capacity magazines shows a significant shift among House lawmakers, who had previously received criticism on this issue. Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would have defined and banned “large-capacity magazines” with a capacity to hold more than 17 rounds of ammunition. House lawmakers added an amendment that would allow for the ownership of large-capacity magazines but include a stricter punishment if used in a crime. It also changed the definition of what the bill defined as a “large-capacity magazine.”

District of Columbia

Washington: A U.S. Capitol Police officer was indicted on federal civil rights charges after he was involved in an unauthorized high-speed chase, crashed into a motorcycle and then tried to cover it up, prosecutors said Friday. The officer, Thomas Smith, was supposed to be checking on the homes of members of Congress in Georgetown about 11:30 p.m. June 20, 2020, when he started pursuing two motorcycles. Prosecutors say he “followed closely behind these vehicles at a high rate of speed” before he swerved his marked patrol car into one of the motorcycles, sending the driver flying into the air. U.S. Capitol Police policy prohibits officers from pursuits outside the grounds of the Capitol without permission from a supervisor. Smith did not seek any approval and did not alert dispatchers that he was involved in a chase, prosecutors say. Authorities allege he drove around the man, leaving the victim lying in the roadway, and fled from the scene. Prosecutors say Smith “knowingly drove away from the scene of the crash without rendering aid, alerting medical authorities, and taking any other reasonable steps to obtain help for the victim.” He then drove back to a Capitol Police parking garage, parked the damaged police sedan, falsified a report to say he had started his shift later, and went inside and got keys for another vehicle, prosecutors said.

Florida

Tallahassee: State health officials have asked the state medical board to draft new policies that would likely restrict gender dysphoria treatments for transgender youth as Florida amps up its ongoing attacks on the treatments amid the country’s culture wars. The officials are also arguing that such treatments should not be covered by Medicaid. In a lengthy report dated Thursday, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery have not been proven safe or effective in treating gender dysphoria. Tom Wallace, the state’s deputy director of Medicaid, signed off on the report. In response, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo wrote a letter to the state Board of Medicine asking it to review the findings and establish new standards for children seeking “these complex and irreversible procedures.” “Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine,” Ladapo wrote. Many doctors and mental health specialists argue that medical treatment for transgender children is safe and beneficial and can improve their well-being, although rigorous long-term research on benefits and risks is lacking. Federal guidelines say gender-affirming care is crucial to the health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary children. Last year, the American Medical Association issued a letter urging governors to block any legislation prohibiting the treatment, calling such action “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine.”

Georgia

Atlanta: Mayor Andre Dickens wants to spend $20 million to improve and subsidize child care and preschool in Atlanta. The money would include $5 million from the city, $5 million from the city’s public school system and $10 million from private donors, Dickens told WABE-FM. On Friday, the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students announced a $4.5 million pledge from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and United Way of Greater Atlanta to help pay for the plan. The city will use federal pandemic relief money to pay for its $5 million. The money will pay to refurbish child care centers, to help families afford child care and to pay teachers bonuses. Dickens said many child care facilities haven’t been able to afford necessary repairs. “To get them up to par, we’re asking those child care centers – particularly on the south side of town, a lot of disinvested places – come to us, and we’ll give you grants to improve and modernize,” he said. The average monthly cost of child care in Georgia is about $1,000 per child. Courtney English, the mayor’s senior policy advisor, said that’s unaffordable for many families.

Hawaii

Honolulu: A judge has set a new sentencing date for former state Rep. Ty Cullen, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to one felony count in connection with his acceptance of bribes when he was a lawmaker. He’s now due to be sentenced Oct. 20 instead of July 5. Cullen’s attorney, Birney Bervar, declined to comment. Former Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, who also pleaded guilty in a related case, is still scheduled to be sentenced July 5. The two Democrats each face up to 20 years in prison, but their sentences will depend on various factors. It’s possible they will get less because they pleaded guilty early. Cullen resigned his House seat representing Waipahu less than an hour before prosecutors announced the allegations in February. He entered a guilty plea the following week. His plea agreement with prosecutors says he accepted cash payments from a business owner identified as “Person A” dating as far back as 2014. That year, Cullen received $22,000 worth of casino chips from the business owner during a trip to a wastewater conference in New Orleans. The following year, Cullen introduced a bill as a favor to “Person A” that provided for a feasibility study and pilot project for the collection and treatment of wastewater, the agreement said, resulting in “Person A’s” company receiving a subcontract. The agreement says the business owner gave Cullen four cash payments totaling $23,000 on separate occasions from September 2019 through March 2020.

Idaho

Boise: The U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws in approving exploratory drilling by a Canadian company hoping to build a gold mine west of Yellowstone National Park, two environmental groups said. The Idaho Conservation League and Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to stop Excellon Idaho Gold’s Kilgore Gold Exploration Project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Clark County. The groups cite potential harm to grizzly bears, wolverines, lynx, bighorn sheep, whitebark pine trees, Columbia spotted frogs and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Grizzly bears in the area are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and whitebark pine, a grizzly bear food source, has been proposed for listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Excellon Idaho Gold is a subsidiary of Toronto, Ontario-based Excellon Resources Inc. It acquired the project from British Columbia-based Otis Gold Corporation in 2020. Otis Gold Corporation said the area contains at least 825,000 ounces of gold near the surface and potentially more below. It said it was looking at possibly building an open-pit mine, if exploration finds that the gold is mostly near the surface, or an underground mine, if the gold is deeper. Those types of mines would require additional approval from the Forest Service.

Illinois

Springfield: Six candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor support armed guards at schools and expanded mental health services to stop mass shootings like the ones at Ulvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the past two weeks. The candidates seeking the GOP nomination met in an hourlong televised debate Thursday night sponsored by WLS-TV, Univision and the League of Women Voters of Illinois. Darren Bailey, Richard Irvin, Max Solomon, Gary Rabine, Paul Schimpf and Jesse Sullivan will meet in the June 28 primary election to determine who will face the Democratic victor. Incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker is seeking a second term and is challenged by Chicago activist Beverly Miles.

Indiana

Indianapolis: All five judges on the state Supreme Court have sided with Gov. Eric Holcomb in a lawsuit that claimed a piece of legislation giving the General Assembly the ability to call itself into special sessions was unconstitutional. Holcomb and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office were at odds over House Bill 1123, which was passed in the Statehouse in 2021. It gives the Legislature the power to start a session after the governor has declared an emergency. Holcomb vetoed it last year, claiming it went against the Indiana Constitution, but the General Assembly overrode his veto. “Government should serve as a steady foundation during a time of crisis,” Holcomb wrote in a letter to House Speaker Todd Huston in 2021, after the veto. “Avoidable legal challenges during a state of emergency will only serve to be disruptive to our state.” Meanwhile, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement Friday that the court had overstepped its authority in his view. “The Indiana Supreme Court provided answers to several areas of the law that the governor questioned,” Rokita wrote. “But in doing so, the court became a legislature today by overriding the intent of those who are directly elected by the people.”

Iowa

Cornerstone Church attendees pray during the first Sunday service after Thursday night's shooting left three people dead at the church parking lot in Ames, Iowa.

Des Moines: A man who fatally shot two women before killing himself in the parking lot of a church had been romantically involved with one of the women and faced a court hearing this week on a charge of harassing her, investigators said Friday. Johnathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, of Boone, pulled up in a pickup truck to 22-year-old Eden Montang, 21-year-old Vivian Flores and another woman just before 7 p.m. Thursday outside Cornerstone Church on the outskirts of Ames and began shooting with a 9 mm handgun, they said. Montang and Flores were killed, Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said, and Whitlatch shot himself. The women were friends and students at Iowa State University who were walking together to the church for a weekly service that is popular with university and high school students, the sheriff said. Whitlatch and Montang had recently broken up, Fitzgerald said, and investigators believe Whitlach’s intent was to kill her. “He was there for a specific purpose, which he accomplished,” the sheriff said. About 80 other students were inside the megachurch at the time, Fitzgerald said. The church is near Interstate 35, about 30 miles north of Des Moines. “Our hearts break for all involved, and we are praying for everyone affected, especially the family of the victims,” the church said in the statement. It held a prayer service for the victims Friday morning.

Kansas

Topeka: A Topeka police officer did not use excessive force while arresting a man during a traffic stop four years ago, a federal grand jury ruled Thursday. Timothy Harris, who is Black, had alleged in the lawsuit that Officer Christopher Janes, who is white, violated his civil rights Jan. 23, 2018, by throwing him to the ground, punching him, and using pepper spray while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. Harris suffered a broken jaw and scrapes during the arrest. He was later convicted of parallel parking too far away from the curb and interference with a law enforcement officer. In closing arguments Thursday, Harris’ attorney, Carlton Odim, said Harris was not resisting arrest, and Janes became frustrated after Harris made what he considered a sarcastic remark to the officer, WIBW reports. But Janes’ attorney, Allen Glendenning, said bodycam video from the arrest showed that Harris was actively resisting and had displayed several “pre-attack” behaviors police are trained to look for during an arrest. U.S. District Judge Dan Crabtree issued an order late Thursday afternoon requiring Harris to cover Janes’ costs, including attorney fees. Harris had sued Janes for $1 million plus his own expenses. The most recent court document available, submitted in mid-January, put Janes’ expenses at $37,688.05 and Harris’ at $197,120.55.

Kentucky

A mock stamp of Muhammad Ali is seen on a T-shirt in the Ali Center's gift shop on Friday.

Louisville: A new campaign aims to get a U.S. postage stamp made in Muhammad Ali’s honor. Prominent figures like Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher and Lonnie Ali, the widow of the humanitarian and boxing great, launched a campaign Friday to have the U.S. Postal Service create a stamp bearing an image of “The Greatest.” “What better day than June 3, when Muhammad passed, to bring attention to this great honor that we really think he deserves,” Annie Moore, senior manager of content and communications of the Ali Center, said at a press conference there. And as Ali once said: “I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.” A person must be dead for at least three years before they can become the subject of a postage stamp, and Ali passed six years ago. “The U.S. Postal Service stamp program honors members, extraordinary individuals who have contributed to American society, history, culture and environment,” said Fischer, who was appearing via Zoom from the U.S. Mayor’s Conference in Nevada. “Muhammad Ali more than meets the criteria in place.” There isn’t a proposal for what the stamp could look like, and Ali Center board member Peter Villegas said by Zoom that the selection process could take up to three years. The campaign will use social media to encourage people to back the effort.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: House-passed legislation to erase Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from a list of Louisiana holidays was approved 28-4 on Friday by the state Senate. The measure by state Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, awaited a final House vote on non-controversial language changes before going to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature. The legislative session is set to end Monday. Neither of the holidays has been officially observed by state government in years. Backers of the bill said the holidays should be wiped from state law because they commemorated slavery and white supremacy. Handling the bill on the Senate floor, Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, disputed arguments from opponents of the bill that the holidays are part of state history. “It is important for us to realize that there is a way to commemorate history without glorifying the atrocities,” Luneau said. The two holidays are among those on a list of holidays a governor can proclaim in addition to permanent holidays that include Christmas and Independence Day. The governor is limited in the number he can proclaim in a year. Nobody spoke against the bill on the Senate floor Friday, but there was one significant change, nixing language eliminating George Washington’s birthday from the optional list in deference to the federal President’s Day holiday.

Maine

Bangor: Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is opening a breast milk donation center as the U.S. continues to deal with a baby formula shortage. The hospital said the breast milk center will open Monday in partnership with a regional milk bank. It’s the first in the Bangor area. A milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more than their babies need. There are a half-dozen other breast milk banks located between Portland and Belfast. The baby formula shortage largely stems from a plant in Michigan, which the FDA shut down in February due to contamination issues. The Biden administration’s response calls for importing foreign supplies and using the Defense Production Act to speed domestic production.

Maryland

Baltimore: A challenge coin inscribed with the Maryland State Police logo along with graphic imagery and offensive language has some troopers concerned because they see it as a potential response to allegations of racial discrimination within the agency. The Baltimore Sun reports photos of the coin obtained by the newspaper show the state police insignia with images of female anatomy and references to people being offended. Challenge coins are tokens that people in organizations such as law enforcement collect to commemorate events or membership. Maryland State Police became aware of the coin in January, and the agency is investigating its creation, including whether someone in the agency was involved with the coins’ “design, manufacturing/purchase or sale,” spokeswoman Elena Russo said in an email. Russo said the agency hasn’t identified the person “responsible for this violation of Department policy” and urged anyone with information to contact internal affairs. Investigations of other coins have led to disciplinary or administrative actions, she said. The coin is being interpreted as a reaction to issues raised by Black troopers about disparate treatment around discipline, hiring and promotions and racist incidents within the agency, according to leaders of the Coalition of Black Maryland State Troopers and the Randallstown NAACP.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a candidate for governor, speaks with reporters during the state’s Democratic Party convention Saturday in Worcester, Mass.

Worcester: Democrats gathered in the city for their state party convention Saturday as they seek to regain the governor’s office and retain control of virtually every other source of political power in the state. Attorney General Maura Healey and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz are both hoping to win the top office in November, but they must first go head-to-head in the fall primary. Healey won the party’s endorsement with 71% of the delegate votes Saturday, while Chang-Díaz won 29%, enough to get her name on the September primary ballot. “I am so so humbled, and I promise you this: I will be a governor who sees everyone, who listens to everyone and who makes sure that every voice in this commonwealth is heard,” Healey said in accepting the endorsement. Healey and Chang-Díaz are both popular among the party faithful, although Healey has the benefit of having run statewide twice – winning both times. Healey also has a financial edge. As of the beginning of May, she had more than $4.9 million in cash in her campaign account, compared to just $353,000 for Chang-Díaz. Either candidate would make history if they win in November. Despite its liberal reputation, Massachusetts has never elected a woman as governor. Healey would also become the state’s first openly gay candidate elected governor and the nation’s first openly lesbian chief executive of a state, while Chang-Díaz would be the first Latina and Asian American to hold the office.

Michigan

Detroit: Two candidates for governor, including a business consultant willing to spend personal millions, lost their final appeals Friday and will remain off the ballot in the Republican primary, the result of phony petition signatures that left them short of the 15,000 threshold. The state Supreme Court was the last stop for Perry Johnson and Michael Markey, who were doomed by forged signatures apparently created by paid circulators without the candidates’ knowledge. After state officials scratched those names, Johnson and Markey didn’t have enough valid ones. Detroit’s former police chief, James Craig, is in the same category. The state Supreme Court rejected his appeal on narrow procedural grounds, saying he first needed to go to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Nonetheless, he, too, will likely stay off the Aug. 2 ballot. “Today was the statutory deadline for ballots to be finalized. ... They are going to begin the printing process now,” said Tracy Wimmer, spokeswoman at the secretary of state’s office. The state elections bureau described widespread evidence of fraudulent signatures, names of dead voters and wrong addresses in a May 23 report – a conclusion that rocked the crowded field of GOP candidates vying to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Minnesota

Minneapolis: A garbage company has stopped picking up yard waste in at least seven metropolitan cities due to a lack of drivers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Waste Management confirmed Thursday that it had suspended yard waste service in Robbinsdale, Stillwater, Columbia Heights, Little Canada, St. Anthony, St. Paul and Vadnais Heights due to a staffing shortage. Company spokeswoman Julie Ketchum said high demand for people with commercial driver’s licenses has created the shortage. She said the yard waste pickup suspensions could last weeks and could expand to other cities going forward.

Mississippi

Hernando: A flyer on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan was reportedly left on the steps of a mostly Black church in rural Mississippi. According to a community member’s Facebook post, the flyer is in support of “The Old Glory Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” and says the group is “alive and growing” in 14 states, including Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. It was found May 29 on the steps of Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Hernando, in DeSoto County, the post said. The Old Glory Knights are a Klan chapter that appeared sometime last year, said Lydia Bates, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have distributed flyers in the past, but flyer campaigns, Bates said, do not always mean the group is active. “Flyering is such a low-cost, low-stakes way to get their messaging out there to intimidate people, to attempt to recruit people,” Bates said. Flyering efforts by the KKK have dropped recently, going from more than 40 incidents in 2020 to fewer than 30 in 2021. Still, Bates said, the flyers can be scary for communities. A big goal of the flyers is to intimidate and make people think the Klan is bigger and stronger than it is in reality, she said. “A hate group built on a 150-plus year history of violence, you can’t dismiss it ... because there is violence in their words inherently,” Bates said.

Missouri

Kansas City: A lawsuit challenging state control of the city’s police department will proceed after a Jackson County judge declined last week to dismiss it. Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, contends in the lawsuit against the Kansas City Police Board of Commissioners that state control of the city’s police department is discriminatory and prevents Kansas City residents from having a say in how millions of tax dollars are spent in their city, The Kansas City Star reports. The board consists of the Kansas City mayor and four members appointed by Missouri’s governor. Kansas City is the only city in the state with a police department controlled by a state board. The current arrangement constitutes “taxation without representation” and violates Missouri’s Hancock Amendment, which limits state revenues and local taxes, Grant argues in the lawsuit. She also argues the current system is discriminatory because it involves a city with a large Black population. “The Court’s denial of the Police Board’s motion to dismiss clears the way for a long-overdue constitutional challenge to this antiquated system, and the antiquated values it represents,” Grant said in a lawsuit.

Montana

Bonner: Stat wildlife officials captured two young female sibling grizzly bears, releasing one back into the wild and euthanizing the other due to an infection stemming from losing a front left paw. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Friday it captured the 2-year-old females May 29 after they remained close to homes in the Blackfoot Valley about 10 miles from the town of Bonner in western Montana. The agency said the healthy sibling weighed about 130 pounds and the other about 90 pounds. The healthy grizzly was fitted with a radio collar and released into an undisclosed location. It’s not clear how the injured grizzly lost its paw, but a bicyclist found a grizzly bear paw April 11 on a road where, last fall, a sow grizzly and three yearling cubs had been seen. Montana Fish, Wildlife Parks Bear Manager Jamie Jonkel told The Missoulian that the agency is waiting on DNA results to see if the captured bears were part of the family group that included a male sibling. The mother grizzly had been known to raid sheds and garages north of Missoula. There have been no reports on the mother or male sibling this spring.

Nebraska

Lincoln: Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jim Pillen scored the endorsement Thursday of the Nebraska Cattlemen, a top advocacy group for the state’s ranchers. Pillen, a veterinarian and the owner of a hog farm operation, is running to replace current Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican who leaves office in January because of term limits. Brenda Masek, the chairwoman of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s political action committee, said Pillen has “walked in our shoes” as an agricultural producer and would be a strong advocate for the industry at the Capitol. “Jim understands the concerns of the agriculture industry because he experiences them firsthand,” Masek said in a statement. Pillen is running against state Sen. Carol Blood, a Democrat and former Bellevue City Council member who was born and raised on a farm and has worked on various agricultural issues in the Legislature. Pillen won Nebraska’s Republican primary last month out of a crowded field that included an opponent backed by ex-President Donald Trump. Before he won the primary, Pillen secured support from Ricketts and the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Nevada

Las Vegas: One of the busiest interchanges on the busiest freeway in the state is getting a three-year remake that transportation and elected officials say will ease access to Allegiant Stadium, T-Mobile Arena and the resort-lined Las Vegas Strip – but only after construction creates an even bigger traffic headache. “Will there be some minor inconvenience for a couple of years? Absolutely, there will be,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a ceremony last week marking the start of $305 million worth of work to upgrade Interstate 15 and Tropicana Avenue. “I think the short-term sacrifice for the long-term gain is going to be something that we’re all really happy with,” the governor said. His comments were reported by the Las Vegas Sun. He called the interchange “the gateway to the entertainment and sports capital of the world.” Buttigieg credited Nevada with taking quick advantage of a federal infrastructure funding measure passed last year. It is expected to pay $25 million toward the project. Another $50 million comes from a federal grant awarded in 2020, and the state is expected to spend $230 million, mostly derived from fuel taxes, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Buttigieg said the project will improve a road designed long before the city looked the way it does today.

New Hampshire

Concord: The state Department of Education on Friday announced an initiative for children and parents to find a moment in their hectic schedules to pause, take a break and share that time with others. It’s called the “603 Moment” campaign, reflecting the state’s area code and the June 3 start. Gov. Chris Sununu planned its launch at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball game, distributing small whiteboards to patrons and encouraging them to share their moment in writing. The initiative advertises, “Reset. Let Go. Grow.” “Just like the #HomeHikeChallenge from the last two years, our #603Moment initiative seeks to help New Hampshire kids, parents, and families refocus and appreciate the little things in life,” Sununu said in a statement. “Let’s channel these 603 Moments into positive change and renew important discussions on the importance of social and emotional health not just in our schools, but also in our communities.” Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said a moment “can occur on a walk or a lunch break, or perhaps it is a peaceful reflection while visiting a favorite place, or just a few deep breaths while in the midst of chaos.” Residents will be encouraged to share their moment on social media with the hashtag #603Moment.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state Supreme Court has overturned a man’s sexual assault conviction because of DNA evidence – not because it exonerated him but because the statute of limitations ran out before the state filed charges once it got a match. Investigators had DNA evidence from the 2001 crime scene and from defendant Bradley Thompson by 2004 but didn’t get a conclusive match until 2016, due to the FBI’s updating of DNA testing guidance. In a 5-0 ruling Thursday with one justice not participating, the Supreme Court held that the five-year statute of limitations should have begun in 2010, when the FBI standards changed and the state lab could have generated a match. Thompson was indicted in 2017 and eventually convicted of criminal sexual contact and criminal trespass. The state had argued that the statute of limitations should have begun in 2016, when it updated its policy to reflect the new FBI guidance and achieved a match with Thompson’s DNA. Two lower courts had agreed. But the high court ruled that under New Jersey law, the statue of limitations began in this case in 2010 – when the state had the capability of matching the crime scene DNA with the defendant’s. If the Legislature meant to have it start when a match was achieved, it would have written that into the law, the court ruled Thursday.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: Federal authorities confirmed Friday that they are investigating how three firefighters battling the largest blaze burning in the U.S. were injured – one of them seriously – when a helicopter dropped part of a load of water on them. It happened the last weekend of May in northern New Mexico as a team of firefighters was working along the fire’s perimeter. They were among the more than 3,000 people assigned to the fire, which has been burning for nearly two months. An initial report from the Bureau of Land Management stated that the hotshot crew was holding a section of fire line about 10:30 a.m. in the Pecos Wilderness last Sunday as helicopters dropped water on the fire’s edge. “When a helicopter missed the identified drop area, the last of the load was delivered on top of several crew members,” the report said. Two received minor injuries, and the third underwent several surgeries at an Albuquerque hospital to repair skull fractures and a broken kneecap. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed Friday that an investigation was underway but declined to release any other information. The blaze was the result of two government planned burns aimed at clearing the forest of overgrown and dead vegetation. It destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate from numerous rural villages in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains east of Santa Fe.

New York

Buffalo: An employee who survived a racist mass shooting at a supermarket sought a court order Friday to question the 18-year-old gunman’s parents under oath in anticipation of filing a lawsuit against them. The filings in state Supreme Court ask that Payton Gendron’s parents, Paul and Pamela Gendron of Conklin, provide depositions by July 29 “to preserve their testimony, frame the complaint, and aid in identifying all possible defendants.” The filings also ask for evidence of the crime to be preserved. Attorney Terrence Connors filed the requests on behalf of Zaire Goodman, one of three people who survived being shot when the gunman opened fire on shoppers and employees at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14. Ten Black people died in the attack. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Thursday that only Payton Gendron appeared to be criminally liable for the shooting. Gendron is charged in a 25-count indictment with hate-motivated domestic terrorism, first-degree murder, attempted murder and murder as a hate crime. He has pleaded not guilty. “No one else is on my radar to be charged,” Flynn said after Gendron was arraigned. Goodman’s filing, first reported by The Buffalo News, accuses Gendron’s parents of ignoring warning signs and “remain(ing) willfully blind to their son’s propensity for vicious conduct.”

North Carolina

A state historical marker honoring 1912 Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe stands along a road in Rocky Mount, N.C., on May 27. A replacement marker was installed in mid-May, more than two years after an earlier marker was accidentally torn down by a mowing service.

Rocky Mount: A historical marker alerting motorists that 1912 two-time Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe once played pro baseball in eastern North Carolina is back up more than two years after it was accidentally torn down. The replacement highway marker honoring Thorpe in downtown Rocky Mount was installed two weeks ago, state Department of Transportation spokesperson Andrew Barksdale told the Rocky Mount Telegram. A Thorpe marker was first installed in 1960 that told passersby that Thorpe came to the city in 1909 to play for the Rocky Mount Railroaders. Thorpe, a Sac and Fox/Potawatomi citizen, was stripped of his gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon after losing his amateur status based on playing baseball in North Carolina. His medals were restored in the early 1980s, about 30 years after his death. The marker was reported missing in late 2019. It turned out the marker had been accidentally struck by a contract mowing service, which agreed to pay for a replacement, the newspaper reports. The replacement was ordered in May 2021, but delays occurred due to foundry staffing shortages and backup marker requests, according to Ansley Wegner, the state Highway Historical Marker Program administrator. “I’m glad to know that it is back in place and doing its job,” Wegner said.

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state Supreme Court has rejected a last-ditch attempt to keep Dakota Access Pipeline construction security records private. The Bismarck Tribune reports the case involves documents the pipeline’s security overseer, TigerSwan, gave to the state’s Private Investigation and Security Board during a dispute over whether the North Carolina company operated illegally in North Dakota. That issue was resolved in September 2020 when the company agreed to pay the board a $175,000 settlement. The Intercept online news organization sued in November 2020 to obtain the documents. The pipeline’s developer, Energy Transfer, has argued the documents are confidential. The state Supreme Court ruled in late April that they’re public records since the security board received them for use in public business. The Tribune reports that Energy Transfer asked the court May 12 to rehear the case. The justices refused in a May 23 order that did not explain their reasoning. Rehearings are rare for the Supreme Court. The justices last granted one in 2013, and then only to correct a misstatement in an opinion.

Ohio

Columbus: The state’s new law allowing adults to carry concealed firearms without training classes or background checks goes into effect June 13. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the measure in March that marks one of the most significant changes to Ohio gun policy in more than 20 years. The new law gives people 21 or older who are legally allowed to own a gun permission to conceal that weapon without training or a permit. Gun owners may still opt to get a permit if they want to carry concealed firearms in other states where licenses are required. Ohio has agreements with more than three dozen states that allow residents to carry concealed guns elsewhere. The new law also eliminates the requirement that those carrying guns “promptly” inform law enforcement when stopped. Instead, the gun owner will have to inform only when an officer asks if the person is carrying a weapon. Ohio first passed a concealed carry weapons permit law in 2004. Since then, it’s been enormously popular, and Ohio lawmakers have shaved down training requirements and expanded places where permit holders may carry. The state doesn’t consider the total number of active license holders a public record, but an analysis from 2019 estimated that about 673,000 Ohioans have a permit, or 1 in 17.

Oklahoma

This black bear in southeastern Oklahoma was captured by OSU researchers then released last year.

Norman: The state’s black bear population continues to grow by 6% each year, and early summer means more bear encounters with people. Reported bear sightings increase in early summer, especially in eastern and central Oklahoma. A year ago in late May, a bear wandered into Norman. The animal was killed by state wildlife officials after attempts to tranquilize it failed. In most cases when bears wander into an Oklahoma town, the animals are tranquilized, captured and relocated by state wildlife officials. It is believed the bear in Norman traveled from southeastern Oklahoma, which has the largest population of bears in the state. Over the years, there have been other bear sightings across the state in early summer, even one that crossed Interstate 35. “These bears are likely young males traveling long distances, up to 80 miles one way, in search of females,” said Jeff Ford, senior wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “So whether you live in bear habitat or in the western reaches of their range, it is important to be bear wise.” Bears roam at night, and food left out such as birdseed, dog food and garbage are their frequent fast-food stops. It is estimated a black bear can smell food a mile away.

Oregon

Portland: Residents of an affordable housing complex say their living conditions are inhospitable, and they want their rent back. Tenants at the Allen Fremont Plaza in Northeast Portland gathered in the courtyard of the three-story complex Wednesday, describing mold, vermin and people who don’t live there camping in the building’s indoor common areas, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. Tenants Gary Bailey, John Brant, Huey Martin, Cathy Mayes and Lisa McConnell have filed lawsuits against Reach Community Development Corp. in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The affordable housing provider, which took over operations of the building seven years ago, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Emily Templeton, the attorney who filed the pro-bono suits, said each plaintiff is seeking a $14,400 refund for the rent paid, as well as a court order to fix the issues. The suit is limited to problems from the past year, but the documented complaints date back to 2013, she said. “This lawsuit is to just push the executives at Reach to finally do something,” Templeton said. Residents are also concerned with accumulation of trash, exposed wiring, the lack of an on-site manager, drug dealing and substance use, ineffective ventilation, fire hazards and inadequate weatherproofing, according to the plaintiffs.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick has conceded the Republican primary for U.S. Senate to celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, ending his campaign as he acknowledged an ongoing statewide recount wouldn’t give him enough votes to make up the deficit. After a bitter campaign that blanketed the airwaves with millions of dollars in attack ads, McCormick issued a gracious concession Friday, vowing to help unite the party behind Oz. “It’s now clear to me with the recount largely complete that we have a nominee,” McCormick said at a campaign party at a Pittsburgh hotel. “And today I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory.” McCormick’s concession cements a general election campaign between Oz, who was endorsed by ex-President Donald Trump, and Democrat John Fetterman in what is expected to be one of the nation’s premier Senate contests. Already, the national parties are sponsoring attack ads on TV in a presidential battleground state that is still roiled by Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election in 2020. The result could help determine control of the closely divided chamber, and Democrats view it as perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a seat in the race to replace retiring two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Rhode Island

Woonsocket: Environmental officials are urging residents to avoid a stretch of the Blackstone River after finding that sewage was leaking into the river from a wastewater treatment plant Sunday. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said it’s investigating the discharge of partly treated wastewater from the Woonsocket Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Officials said they were made aware of the discharge Sunday morning, and it is “currently ongoing.” Residents are being urged to avoid swimming, boating or fishing in the river from Cumberland Hill Road in Woonsocket to the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice. The treatment plant is operated by the private firm Jacobs and treats about 10 million gallons of sewage a day, according to the department. The agency said it previously issued letters of noncompliance to the facility in November 2021 and March 2022 regarding “operations and maintenance concerns.” Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

South Carolina

Columbia: At least some of the five Democrats seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination are expected to debate, just more than a week before the state’s primary elections. The South Carolina Democratic Party announced Friday that it had sanctioned the production of the debate, to be co-hosted by South Carolina Educational Television and The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston, for June 10. That’s a day before South Carolina’s Democrats are expected to assemble in Columbia for this year’s state party convention. Whether any of the gubernatorial candidates would debate before the June 14 contest had long been up for debate itself. A broadcast event had been scheduled for June 1, but former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham’s refusal to commit to it prompted state Sen. Mia McLeod to issue a debate challenge via Twitter so that she and Cunningham could “give the people what they want.” Cunningham responded by saying that he welcomed “a fair debate” but balked at participation in the forum, which was to have been sponsored by the South Carolina Democratic Party’s Black Caucus. Cunningham’s concern was that the chair of that caucus is listed as someone paid by McLeod’s campaign. A review of McLeod’s expenditures lists chairman Brandon Upson as having been paid $900 by the campaign, remuneration Upson has said was tied to the campaign’s purchase of a list of about 100,000 names to be used for fundraising.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Backers of legal marijuana in the state are also fighting a different, unrelated ballot measure that would make it harder for voters to raise taxes and government spending. Amendment C, which voters will see on this week’s ballot, would have no bearing on a separate measure that will go to voters in November to legalize cannabis. If passed, Amendment C would require future ballot measures that increase taxes or government spending by $10 million over five years to receive a 60% majority. But increased spending and tax increases aren’t associated with Initiated Measure 27, the official name of the cannabis ballot measure on the November ballot. According to a fiscal impact statement associated with IM27, the measure isn’t expected to cost the state of South Dakota a dime. In fact, the state might save money. “There would be decreased expenses for the state due to decreased incarceration from the nullification of some marijuana-related laws,” Reed Holwegner, the director of the Legislative Research Council, wrote in what’s formally called a fiscal note that was sent to the Secretary of State’s Office in October. Unlike the last go-round in which the public voted to legalize pot at the polls, IM27 does not establish any regulatory structure around commercial marijuana sales.

Tennessee

An East Memphis sinkhole on Waring Road between Chickasaw and Walnut Grove roads that was featured in a viral TikTok.

Memphis: The city got dragged in the comments Wednesday after officials attempted to rebut a viral TikTok that highlighted Memphis’ persistent problems with potholes. The post by Traynor Jennings III showed him standing waist-deep in what he called a pothole but the city described as erosion from a damaged underground waterline. “Hey, City of Memphis, there are holes like this everywhere,” Jennings said. The TikTok has been viewed about 3 million times, putting the potholes that are ubiquitous throughout Memphis in the harsh glare of the viral spotlight. The city did not take kindly to Jennings’ TikTok and offered a rebuttal Wednesday afternoon. The video “may be funny to watch but was unwise to remove the metal plate and place yourself into the cavity of washed away soil in the middle of the street. Your best bet is to call 311 and report road damage and potholes,” the city said. But that’s not the case, Jennings said. He took to Facebook and the radio show circuit to push back on the city’s claim that he moved a steel plate that likely weighs hundreds of pounds. The city later amended its post and removed the reference to moving the metal plate. A 4-foot-by-4-foot steel plate weighs about 652 pounds, according to onlinemetals.com. Mayor Jim Strickland, in an interview with WREG, apologized for the city’s comments.

Texas

Centerville: The search for a murderer who had killed on behalf of Mexican drug cartels and who stabbed and injured the driver of a prison transport bus last month when he escaped custody ended late Thursday in a shootout about 220 miles away. He led officers on a brief chase in a stolen truck before he was gunned down. Authorities believe while Gonzalo Lopez, 46, roamed free, he killed a man and his four grandsons, then stole an AR-15-style rifle and a pistol from their ranch near Centerville, as well as the truck he drove to Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, where he was fatally shot by officers. “This is something that you can’t imagine ever to happen in a small community like this,” said Tuffy Loftin, 61, a pastor in Centerville who knew the family. Centerville residents had been worried ever since May 12, when Lopez overpowered the officer who was driving him and 15 other prisoners near their community between Dallas and Houston. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is still investigating how Lopez broke free from his restraints and escaped a caged area of the bus where he had been held. Following his escape, law enforcement had been vigorously patrolling Highway 7 and other roads in Centerville and escorting many of the city’s nearly 1,000 residents to their homes to ensure they felt safe.

Utah

A sprinkler waters grass in Sandy, Utah, on May 31. A Brigham Young University study says Utahns harm lawns with too much water.

Salt Lake City: A recent study suggests nearly half of the state’s residents are using too much water in an effort to keep their grass healthy. Using aerial photographs depicting lawns in two Utah County cities, then cross-referencing the data with secondary water bills from thousands of anonymous customers, Brigham Young University’s Civil and Construction Engineering professor Rob Sowby’s paper points to widespread overuse in the Beehive State. “The gut reaction is, more water equals more green. But there’s a curve; there’s an optimal point. And as you put more water on, that’s all you’re doing, you’re not making it any healthier,” Sowby told the Deseret News. The overuse is problematic on two fronts – first, the West is battling a historically bad drought. Water districts are enforcing unprecedented water cuts, while the Great Salt Lake and two of the nation’s largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are at all-time lows. Water hawks across the region are warning residents that now is not the time to be using too much water on nonessential landscapes, like a lawn. Second, too much water will harm grass. “Yes, you put more water on, and it gets healthier, but then it peaks out. And as you put more water on, that’s all you’re doing – you’re just wasting water. It doesn’t get any healthier,” Sowby said. An abundance of weeds like crabgrass or thatch, fungal growth like mushrooms, standing water or runoff after irrigation, yellowing and eventually dying patches of grass are all signs of overwatering.

Vermont

Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a land conservation bill that supporters say intended to protect biodiversity and improve climate resilience. The legislation set goals of conserving 30% of Vermont land by 2030 and 50% by 2050. Scott, a Republican, wrote in his veto message to lawmakers Thursday that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources testified multiple times against this bill, saying the conservation goals in it “are unnecessarily tied to – and unreasonably limited to – permanent protection.” “The Agency has repeatedly said that permanent preservation has not been, and cannot be, the state’s exclusive conservation tool and this bill, intentional or not, would diminish the existing and successful conservation tools we have,” Scott wrote. House Speaker Jill Krowinski and House Natural Resources Chair Amy Sheldon said the act was part of a package of environmental legislation that sought to build on the state’s conservation work and help reduce the impact of climate change on communities, and now joins other environmental protection legislation that Scott has vetoed in recent years. Environmental groups also criticized the move. The bill would have created a statewide conservation plan, given the current and future development pressures on Vermont’s landscape, combined with the “historic biodiversity loss and climate change,” the Vermont Natural Resources Council said in a statement.

Virginia

Culpeper: The General Assembly’s recently approved budget appropriates money to create a new state park in Culpeper County that would include two Civil War battlefields. The spending plan sent to Gov. Glenn Youngkin last week would create a 1,700-acre park focused on Culpeper County’s Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields, which have been preserved by the American Battlefield Trust, the Star-Exponent reports. Proponents say Culpeper’s location between Manassas National Battlefield Park and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will boost visitation. Many of the sites the Culpeper Battlefields State Park will include are already open to the public, under the stewardship of the battlefield trust or other organizations. “As awe-inspiring as these preserved lands are, we came to realize the wherewithal and marketing muscle of the Virginia State Park System was needed to make the battlefields into a genuine heritage tourism destination and economic engine for the community,” Jim Campi, the battlefield trust’s chief policy and communications officer, told the newspaper. The budget is awaiting action from Youngkin, who has indicated his support for the park, according to the newspaper. Under the budget language, the park would be created by July 1, 2024.

Washington

Seattle: A woman who was struck in the eye with a so-called rubber bullet during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, causing an injury that required surgery, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department. Nikita Tarver alleges an officer targeted her – the only Black person in a crowd of white protesters – when she raised a sign showing the names of police violence victims, the Seattle Times reports. Tarver was likely struck with a 40 mm foam-tipped projectile, one of several “less-lethal” weapons a federal judge later enjoined police from using against protesters. The rounds can cause serious injury. Their manufacturer warns against firing them at people’s heads. The lawsuit joins dozens of others filed by protesters who claim police used excessive force against nonviolent demonstrators during the 2020 summer protests. The Seattle city attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit claims Tarver and a friend were walking back to their car when Tarver hoisted a sign. “Within seconds of holding her sign up so that it could be seen, Nikita felt a blast in her left eye,” the lawsuit says. “Nikita screamed out in terror. Her entire face felt like it was burning and she felt like she was going to lose her eye.”

West Virginia

Charleston: The state is scaling back its community testing events for the coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice said. Justice said Thursday that the decision was made due to the availability and convenience of at-home test kits for COVID-19. The state has provided free community testing since the start of the pandemic in 2020. People who have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus can still find testing sites at places such as pharmacies and participating health departments and medical centers. “There are still plenty of places out there where you can find access to free testing. But, to be perfectly honest, what’s happening right now with our community testing events is that they’re set up all day, but maybe only two people come by,” Justice said. “We’re just spending money that could be better spent somewhere else right now. That said, if things happen to get worse, we’ll be right back out there.” The state has a map of available testing sites on the Department of Health and Human Resources’ website.

Wisconsin

Madison: A national meatpacking company with a facility in Green Bay has agreed to pay about $15,000 to settle allegations that unsafe practices during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic sickened and killed Wisconsin workers. Wisconsin Public Radio reports the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced the settlement last week, and it applies to seven JBS Foods USA plants, including the Green Bay facility. The company closed that plant in late April 2020 after nearly 150 infections were linked to it. The plant reopened about a week later. OSHA said that by mid-August, 357 infections had been confirmed at the plant. OSHA cited the plant in October 2020 on grounds that the company didn’t implement timely and effective measures to control the disease’s spread. The agency hailed the settlement as a step toward protecting workers. Jarrett Brown, who worked at the Green Bay plant until early 2020, called the deal a slap on the wrist. “This is not punishment for them,” Brown said. JBS officials said in a statement that they’ve established COVID-19 protocols and plan to implement them across their U.S. facilities.

Wyoming

In Kirby, Wyo., Wyoming Whiskey’s flagship Small Batch Bourbon is made from a mash bill of corn, wheat and barley grown in the Big Horn Basin area of the state. There are also single barrel and cask strength expressions of the bourbon available. Tours are available Monday to Friday.

Kirby: A local distillery has partnered with Yellowstone National Park to release a limited-edition bourbon in honor of the park’s 150th anniversary. Wyoming Whiskey announced in a press release that its National Parks No. 2 straight bourbon whiskey comes in tandem with the brand’s continuing partnership with Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. The National Parks No. 2 bottle is the second collectible release in an annual national park series that debuted in April 2021. It is now available in Yellowstone National Park and throughout Wyoming and is also available in select U.S. markets and online from ReserveBar, Flaviar and Caskers. The inaugural release of Wyoming Whiskey’s national parks series contributed over $120,000 to the National Park Foundation in 2021. Wyoming Whiskey said it has committed to donating $150,000 to Yellowstone Forever in the park’s historic 150th year. For every bottle sold, the distillery said it will donate $5 up to a maximum donation of $150,000 to support Yellowstone Forever’s preservation mission. The straight bourbon whiskey is made from 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley – all Wyoming-made, non-genetically modified grains – and bottled at 105 proof. The company said the water used is sourced from a local limestone aquifer.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports