Seedlings to fall far from oak, bologna bust, snowboard pioneer: News from around our 50 states

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

Published 2: 36 AM EST Nov 25, 2019


Troy: Researchers in the state are studying new ways to recycle plastics. Troy University says its recently established Center for Material and Manufacturing Sciences has received a $2.7 million grant to look at new methods of recycling plastic waste. A statement from the school says the money will pay for scientists and students to work on the project, plus equipment to do the work. The grant is from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department. It provided another grant of $3.2 million last year. The research looks at ways to recycle polymers into new materials. Researchers will also study using hemp fiber to reinforce plastics, as well as ways to test recycled material.


Adak: The Alaska Earthquake Center says an earthquake hit the Andreanof Islands region. The center says the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck at 3: 54 p.m. Saturday. The epicenter was 59 miles southeast of Adak, a village of about 300 people. The center says the earthquake was felt in Adak. The earthquake had a depth of about 16 miles. The National Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was not expected.


Tucson: The University of Arizona’s medical school says it will give free tuition to some students who commit to working as primary care doctors in underserved areas. The school said Friday that scholarships will be available to nearly 100 students at its Phoenix and Tucson campuses. Students will have to commit to working in an underserved area after their residency for one year for each year of waived tuition. The scholarships are funded with part of an $8 million state funding plan approved earlier this year. The rest of that money will allow growth from 80 to 100 medical students at UA’s Phoenix campus. Physician groups say high debt burdens discourage new doctors from working in primary care in rural or urban underserved areas, which tend to come with lower salaries.


Bentonville: A judge ordered a journalist be released after she served a few hours of her three-day sentence for recording proceedings in a homicide case. Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye on Tuesday for contempt of court. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports she was released Wednesday. Omeronye, a KNWA TV reporter, admitted to making an audio recording during a hearing in Mauricio Torres’ capital murder case last month. She testified that she recorded to ensure she took accurate notes. The Arkansas Supreme Court bars any recordings without the judge’s consent. Karren sentenced Omeronye to 10 days in jail but suspended seven days. Omeronye’s sentencing had been criticized by media and journalism organizations, who called jail time too harsh.


Santa Clarita: Hundreds of people gathered at Real Life Church on Saturday to celebrate the life of one of two students killed at a high school in suburban Los Angeles. The family and friends of Gracie Anne Muehlberger recounted stories of a vibrant teenager who was admired for her smarts, humor and mischievousness, the Orange County Register reports. Muehlberger, 15, and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell were killed Nov. 14 when fellow student Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, 16, shot students at Saugus High School at random. Berhow died after he shot himself in the head. The newspaper says a video montage at the memorial service showed Muehlberger dancing, laughing and singing. Her father, Bryan, said: “Thank you Gracie for sharing your soul with all of us.” Pastor Rusty George asked those at the service to continue reaching out to Gracie’s family, the Register reports.


Denver: An alleged white supremacist accused of plotting to bomb a historic synagogue is facing two new charges. A grand jury indictment announced Friday charges 27-year-old Richard Holzer with attempted arson and using fire or an explosive device to commit a felony against Temple Emanuel in Pueblo. The indictment also incorporates the original charge from his Nov. 1 arrest – attempting to obstruct the exercise of religion by force by using explosives and fire. Prosecutors say Holzer would face a maximum of 50 years in prison if convicted. Holzer was arrested after the FBI said he accepted what turned out to be phony explosives from undercover agents to bomb the synagogue. He is represented by an attorney from the federal public defender’s office, which doesn’t comment on allegations.


New Haven: Protesters wearing the colors of both Harvard and Yale staged a sit-in at midfield of Yale Bowl on Saturday during halftime of the 136th edition of the annual football rivalry known as The Game. Most walked off after about an hour with a police escort; about 20-30 who remained were arrested. A few dozen protesters initially trickled onto the field as the Yale band finished performing its halftime routine, some holding a banner asking the schools’ presidents to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Other signs referred to Puerto Rican debt and the treatment of the Uighurs. Yale officials said in a statement that the school “stands firmly for the right to free expression.” The Ivy League, however, called the protest’s timing “regrettable.” Between 20 and 30 people were arrested, released and given a court date, protest organizers said.


Dover: State laws passed earlier this year to protect child sex trafficking victims have caught the attention of a national group working to combat sex trafficking. On Wednesday, Shared Hope International released its 2019 state report cards, which grade states on their child sex trafficking laws. Delaware’s 2019 score of 86.5, a “B,” is its highest yet, up significantly from its 2011, 2012 and 2013 scores of 60.5, 63 and 65.5, respectively, all “D” grades. The First State has been identified as a “focus state” thanks to its legislation passed this year that says children cannot be charged with prostitution for the forced sale of their bodies. But the state still has work to do in improving victim protections, specifically surrounding the services and resources it offers to victims, the report card found.

District of Columbia

Washington: The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a deadly shooting that claimed the life of a violence interrupter in Southeast D.C., WUSA-TV reports. District Attorney General Karl Racine says the shooting happened Friday afternoon as 40-year-old Clarence Venable was leaving a violence interrupter training session. Racine said it’s a dangerous job, but it’s absolutely necessary. “Our hearts go out to his family, and obviously the team is also quite devastated,” he said. “Nonetheless, we clearly have unanimity around the commitment to do even more in terms of violence interruption.” D.C. Councilmember Trayon White shared to Facebook that Venable was the funniest man he knows and was a victim on the front line of what he spent his last days trying to prevent.


Fort Myers: A man claims he is being evicted from his apartment because he practices the Santeria religion. Mamberto Real, 68, is fighting his eviction from a local senior complex by going to court. Housing authority officials declined to comment on Real’s specific case but said there is a process to deal with tenants who may become disruptive or cause problems. Real says he simply wants to practice his religion. Santeria has African and Cuban roots. Practitioners often use icons or statues for purposes such as warding off evil. Real has two sugar cane stalks in front of his door for just that purpose.


Augusta: A U.S. Department of Defense unit has opened its first remote office outside the Pentagon with its new facility in east Georgia. The Augusta Chronicle reports that Defense Digital Service works to find solutions for highly technical problems encountered by the military. It held a grand opening recently in the Georgia Cyber Center. The space is dubbed Tatooine, which comes from Luke Skywalker’s home planet in the “Star Wars” movie series. Defense Digital Service reports directly to the Secretary of Defense. Its first satellite office – in Augusta – puts it in close proximity to the U.S. Army Cyber Command and the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon.


Kailua-Kona: The Hawaii County Council has become the first local government in the state to ban the use of herbicides on public property, officials say. The council passed a bill Wednesday to ban the use of 30 herbicides over four years, West Hawaii Today reports. The ban covers parks and areas alongside roads, bikeways, sidewalks, trails, drainage, and waterways owned or maintained by the county, officials say. Scientific studies show links between herbicides and cancer, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems in children, as well as damage to marine environments, supporters say. “Cigarettes used to be safe. Climate change used to be fake,” Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “A lot of things we thought were safe, we’ve found would kill us.”


Nampa: The U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that it would be sending requests to states asking them to share driver’s license records, following a Trump administration executive order to expand the use of federal, state and local administrative records. The U.S. Census Bureau told the Idaho Press on Friday that Idaho would not be sharing state driver’s license records with the bureau. The Idaho Complete Count Committee met for the first time in July and has met one other time to address how to reach historically hard-to-count groups. In the July meeting, former state legislator and co-chairwoman of the committee Wendy Jaquet said she is most concerned with an undercount of immigrants and people born outside the United States.

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Chicago: A group representing school boards across the state has again rejected a resolution supporting teachers and other school employees carrying guns in schools. The Illinois Association of School Boards voted against the measure Saturday during an annual convention. It’s the second consecutive year the group has rejected such a proposal. A resolution would be used to support any legislation on the issue if it’s filed. Discussion on arming teachers has followed multiple school shootings nationwide. Much of the support for the measure came from rural school districts that can’t hire school resource officers. Others, including in Chicago’s suburbs, say it’s a safety risk to arm teachers. There are more than 850 school districts in Illinois.


Indianapolis: State lawmakers are voicing support for raising the state’s legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says he supports raising the age from 18 to 21, along with majority of the House Republican caucus. Bosma and others who previously blocked the move had pointed to the fact that people could serve in the military, vote and buy a gun at the age of 18. But he also notes an increase in youth vaping and related deaths and illnesses. Bosma says he changed his mind because the armed services and veterans’ groups support the age change. Lawmakers are also pushing to raise taxes on tobacco products in an effort to curb use. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray also supports the measures but says moves on tax increases likely won’t happen this session.


Cedar Rapids: The state’s farmer-dominated conservation districts are calling for a state ban on planting crops within 30 feet of streams to improve water quality, but the state’s top agricultural official opposes the idea. The Gazette reports the Conservation Districts of Iowa isn’t the first group to push for a buffer law, but it’s the first time a group made up mainly of farmers and retired farmers has advocated for something more stringent than voluntary action. Dennis Carney, the group’s president, says he sees a growing realization that current policies aren’t achieving the desired results. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says he opposes a buffer strip requirement because more regulation runs counter to his agency’s philosophy. He questions whether the conservation district reflects the views of most Iowa farmers.


Greensburg: A dozen years after a tornado nearly wiped out the city, leaders say the decision to rebuild as “the greenest community in America” has been a mixed success. The May 4, 2007, tornado killed 11 people and destroyed most of Greensburg. The town has about 850 residents, 600 fewer than when the tornado hit. The Kansas News Service reports the decision to rebuild in an environmentally friendly way started the night after the tornado. The green rebuilding plan was considered a way to set the small town apart from other rural communities, which were dwindling. City Administrator Stacy Barnes acknowledges some expectations at the time were unrealistic. But she says the town continues to work on projects, and she remains optimistic about the town’s future.


Cadiz: Lake Barkley State Resort Park is getting about $6 million in improvements as part of an initiative to upgrade the state’s parks. The funding for Lake Barkley will include upgrades for the wastewater treatment system, roof replacement and repairs, and improvements for the fire alarm and sprinkler system. The state park in far western Kentucky has received more than $7.7 million in improvements since 2016. An initiative called “Restoring the Finest” is an effort to make repairs and safety improvements to the parks system. Lawmakers approved a $50 million bond issue for the campaign during the 2019 General Assembly.


Baton Rouge: The state’s technology office says 1 in 10 of the 5,000 computer network servers that power operations across state government was damaged by a cyberattack last week. Neal Underwood, Louisiana’s deputy chief information officer, told budget committee lawmakers Friday that the ransomware attack wasn’t catastrophic to state government. No data was lost, and no ransom was paid. But Underwood says the impact for some agencies was significant. Technology staff has been working around the clock since last Monday’s attack to get online systems and services back up and running. Underwood said he expected to have all state agencies resuming normal operations by Monday. Among the most public disruption has been to the Office of Motor Vehicles, which shuttered its branch locations.


Kittery: Some major projects that have been in the works for years are beginning to take shape at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Two U.S. senators joined Navy officials Friday in breaking ground on a Paint, Blast and Rubber Facility that comprises more than 65,000 square feet and a consolidated warehouse of about 29,000 square feet. Together the projects are worth nearly $80 million. The Navy also announced the award of a nearly $158 million contract for dry dock improvements. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, attended the event Friday morning in Kittery. Officials say the projects are key to modernizing and optimizing the shipyard. The General Accounting Office says equipment is aging beyond the expected life at all four of the nation’s public shipyards.


Annapolis: For the first time in 24 years, individuals sentenced to life in a correctional facility for crimes they committed before turning 18 are being paroled by a Maryland governor. This shift in policy for juvenile lifers by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is unprecedented in the state’s recent history. “The governor talked about this issue in his original campaign, and it’s something that he gives serious attention to,” Hogan Administration Deputy Legal Counsel Chris Mincher told Capital News Service. Hogan’s decision to implement parole for juvenile lifers comes after 24 years of rejections for this group by the previous three governors, a trend that started with Gov. Parris Glendening in 1995.


Worcester: Historians have recognized two Boston Tea Party participants. The Telegram & Gazette reports historical reenactors and Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum representatives placed plaques Thursday on the Worcester graves of Peter Slater Jr. and Benjamin Tucker Jr. The museum’s Evan O’Brien says they were “just as important to our region’s history as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Adams and John Hancock.” American colonists protesting “taxation without representation” in December 1773 dumped 340 chests of imported tea into Boston Harbor, a key event leading to the American Revolution. O’Brien says not much is known about the more than 100 believed participants, but a large percentage were common tradesmen, young adults and apprentices. The museum hopes to mark known participants’ graves before the event’s 250th anniversary in 2023.


Lansing: Four enrollees in the state’s Medicaid expansion program filed a lawsuit Friday challenging work requirements that are set to take effect in January, arguing that the Trump administration lacked the authority to approve the rules that undermine the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit, brought in federal court, asks the judge to declare the federal approval of the rules illegal and to block them from being implemented. Starting Jan. 1, able-bodied adults ages 19 through 61 who want coverage in the state’s Medicaid expansion plan – Healthy Michigan – will have to show workforce engagement averaging 80 hours a month. They will be able to do so through work, school, training, substance abuse treatment or community service. The requirements could affect more than 270,000 of 670,000 participants covered by the state’s Medicaid expansion.


Buffalo: A mother is suing the local school district, claiming it discriminated against her son because he’s transgender. The lawsuit filed in Wright County alleges Buffalo Community Middle School repeatedly isolated her son from his classmates, limited his access to a suitable restroom and removed him from physical education classes. Woods wanted to use the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms but was required to use a single-occupancy restroom that he says was difficult to get to between classes. Matt Woods was 11 years old in September 2015 when he transitioned socially and adopted a new name. The Star Tribune says school officials have denied the allegations in the lawsuit. Matt’s mom, Helene Woods, says that “transgender kids are just kids,” and denying them access to the facilities that meet their gender identity is harming them.


Jackson: Fewer than 4 in 10 children in the state are considered academically ready for kindergarten – about the same share as in recent years. The Mississippi Department of Education says 36.6% of children scored as kindergarten-ready on an assessment this fall. The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates early literacy skills, including recognizing letters and matching letters to their sounds. Children are also tested on recognizing that print in English flows from left to right. The education department said in a Nov. 12 news release that for each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 36% of children scored as kindergarten-ready. The Mississippi Board of Education has set a goal of expanding access to high-quality early childhood education.


St. Louis: City leaders are considering a proposal that would remove criminal history questions from initial job applications in the private sector. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the city Board of Aldermen began debate Friday on the “ban-the-box” legislation. The measure would, among other things, bar companies with 10 or more employees from including questions about convictions on an initial job application. Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, the measure’s sponsor, says the bill is “about giving people a second chance and expanded employment opportunities.” Similar “ban-the-box” regulations have been adopted around the country.

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Helena: State officials say public schools received nearly $46 million through state management of trust lands, minerals and timber for the financial year that ended June 30. That amounts to $311 for each of the approximately 150,000 children enrolled in Montana public schools and more than 5% of the Office of Public Instruction’s budget. Trust land revenue also helps the Montana University System, the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, the Montana Veterans Home and public buildings. The revenue is raised through agricultural leases and grazing; oil, gas, coal and mineral royalties; logging; and land sales.


Grand Island: The finance director of the Nebraska State Fair has resigned, saying the fair may be on the verge of bankruptcy. Patrick Kopke resigned Friday at a meeting of the fair board, telling members his concerns about excessive spending had not been addressed. NTV reports Kopke told the board the State Fair, which has been held in Grand Island since 2010, has lost money the past two years. He projected the fair to be nearly $1.7 million in the red for 2019 and said it could be forced to file for bankruptcy next year. Former Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen, chairman of the fair board’s finance committee, tells the Lincoln Journal Star that Kopke’s projection was premature. Following Kopke’s resignation, the board approved a new budget that will require cutting as much as half of the fair’s staff of about 20. Jensen estimated the savings from the new budget will be about $600,000.


Las Vegas: California is playing an unparalleled role in Nevada’s growth. The state population has surpassed 3 million people, and the U.S. Census Bureau has ranked the Silver State as the nation’s fastest-growing in 2018. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that more than 50,000 Californians moved to Nevada from July 2017 to July 2018. That’s nearly 40% of the total number of people who moved to Nevada from another U.S. state in that time. The executive director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV, Robert Lang, says there are now more adults in Nevada who were born in California than native Nevadans. Meanwhile, Nevada lost about 22,400 residents to its western neighbor. That’s about 10,000 fewer than in 2009 and the lowest in five years.

New Hampshire

Concord: A state watchdog office is calling for increased communication, collaboration and consistency when it comes to helping infants born exposed to opioids and other substances. The Office of the Child Advocate on Friday released a report following a nearly yearlong review of how the state’s child protection system responds in such cases. It found promising practices – including the hiring of a specialized caseworker in one region – but said those initiatives should be implemented statewide. Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said the recommendations build on existing efforts to improve coordination and communication among health care providers, community-based prevention programs and child welfare stakeholders. From July 2018 to September 2019, about 500 infants were monitored in New Hampshire hospitals for conditions related to substance exposure.

New Jersey

Salem: A famed, historic, 600-year-old oak tree unexpectedly fell to its demise in June. But state officials have announced a plan to ensure the tree’s legacy by distributing its seedlings to each of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities. The Salem Oak, which had stood on the grounds of the Salem Friends Meeting, had deep Quaker roots. Historians believed Quaker and Salem founder John Fenwick signed a treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indians under the tree in 1675. The Salem Oak was the tallest white oak tree – about 103 feet – in the state at the time of its collapse. Just months before the tree fell, foresters in the New Jersey Forest Service’s Big and Heritage Tree Conservation program collected acorns at the base of the oak and saw nothing that indicated the tree’s health was in jeopardy, the agency says. Nearly 1,200 seedlings sprouted from those acorns.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: State regulators have adopted new rules that will prohibit trapping or snaring cougars for sport, marking a small victory for animal protection groups that have been fighting for a broader ban of the practice on public lands. The state Game Commission voted unanimously in favor the new regulations during a meeting Thursday in Roswell. The decision comes after Animal Protection of New Mexico and the Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit arguing that traps and snares threatened legally protected species such as endangered Mexican gray wolves and that hunting quotas for cougars were unsustainably high. Laura Bonar, chief program and policy officer for Animal Protection of New Mexico, says the vote was the right decision by the commission, but more needs to be done.

New York

New York: Health officials say the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the city has fallen below 2,000 for the first time since it started keeping records in 2001. According to the 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report, 1,917 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City in 2018. That’s down 11% from the 2,157 new diagnoses reported in 2017 and a steep 67% from 2001. City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot says the city takes “a data-driven, sex-positive approach” to preventing new infections with the virus that causes AIDS. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says the decline in new HIV cases is “truly something to celebrate.” But Johnson says there is “so much work to do” to further reduce HIV rates in the city.

North Carolina

Greenville: A new freeway that opened to traffic seven months ahead of schedule will relieve congestion and improve safety for travelers around the city. The state Department of Transportation said in a news release that the Southwest Bypass near Greenville opened Thursday after a ribbon-cutting event. Ronnie Keeter, the transportation department’s eastern chief deputy engineer, says the bypass will help boost economic development in and around Greenville by creating better connections in the region. The Southwest Bypass is a four-lane, 12.6-mile freeway that begins about 2 miles south of Ayden on Highway 11, wraps around the west side of Ayden and Winterville, and ends at the U.S. 264 Bypass west of Greenville.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Authorities say a pipeline spill of so-called produced water in western North Dakota was much larger than initially estimated by state inspectors. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality said Friday that about 1.4 million gallons of produced water were released in the Oct. 1 spill into a small creek and stock pond located about 1.5 miles north of Manning. The original report said the spill included about 21,000 gallons of the water, which often contains various chemicals and traces of oil. Inspectors say the initial estimate was based on “observation of surface impacts.” The follow-up investigation included an analysis of meter readings. The creek discharges into the Knife River about a mile away, but inspectors say no impacts have been detected in the river.


Cleveland: The mother of a black 12-year-old fatally shot by a white police officer has released a booklet to show children how they should interact with police. reports Samaria Rice and the American Civil Liberties Union have created the Tamir Rice Safety Handbook. The six-page booklet shows children and teenagers how to assert their rights in different scenarios with law enforcement, from being questioned on the way home from school to having officers show up at their homes. Tamir was playing with a pellet gun outside a Cleveland recreation center in November 2014 when he was shot by an officer who thought it was an actual firearm. The officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. Tamir’s family reached a $6 million settlement with the city in 2016.


Oklahoma City: A grand jury has indicted a police lieutenant on a second-degree murder charge, alleging he wasn’t justified in firing about 60 shots at a road-rage suspect. The grand jury found 40-year-old John Mitchell engaged in “imminently dangerous conduct” when he fatally shot 34-year-old Micheal Ann Godsey. The shooting happened during a May 20 pursuit in Blackwell, about 93 miles north of Oklahoma City. Defense attorney Gary James had said Mitchell acted lawfully to stop a threat, The Oklahoman reports. He described Godsey as a “violent, fleeing felon,” adding she shot at police officers. Two officers were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting. The grand jury indicted Mitchell on Thursday. He faces at least 10 years in prison.


Salem: Authorities have released 21 people protesting a planned liquefied natural gas pipeline who were arrested Thursday night during a sit-in at the governor’s office in the State Capitol. The demonstrators opposed to the pipeline and a marine export terminal in Oregon demanded that Gov. Kate Brown publicly oppose the project, which she refused to do. Southern Oregon Rising Tide, which organized the protest, said the 21 arrested by State Police spent the night in jail and were out by 5 a.m. Friday. State Police said in a statement that the 21 were arrested on trespassing charges after being asked to leave. The proposed marine terminal, in Coos Bay, would allow export of American liquid natural gas to Asia and would have a 230-mile feeder pipeline from an interstate gas hub in southern Oregon’s Klamath County.

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Harrisburg: State Sen. John Yudichak’s announcement that he’s leaving the Democratic Party after two decades in the Legislature swiftly reverberated in the Capitol. Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati says it absolutely takes away any chance for Senate Democrats to gain control of the Senate in next year’s election. Yudichak is now the Senate’s only registered independent ever on record. He’ll also join the Senate Republican caucus. Yudichak blames a corrosive “us vs. them” political World and paints the Democratic Party and the Senate’s Democratic caucus as increasingly less tolerant of issues that are important to him. Many inside the Democratic caucus accuse Yudichak of betraying his roots. Democratic Sen. John Blake of Lackawanna County cals it a “a selfish political bait-and-switch.”

Rhode Island

Providence: The state is behind schedule when it comes to putting up gantries on highways for its truck tolling system. WPRI-TV reports that the Department of Transportation has missed multiple self-imposed deadlines to get more gantries up and running, raising doubts about whether the program will bring in the $25 million projected in this year’s budget. The department had hoped to have seven of the 13 gantry locations up and running by this week, but only four are in operation. A fifth on Interstate 295 in Cumberland is about three months behind schedule. An agency spokeswoman says the delays were caused by severe flooding in the Midwest, where a steel fabricator is located. The four tolling locations now operating collected $2.8 million between July 1 and Oct. 31.

South Carolina

Columbia: A school district is apologizing for the way boys and girls were treated differently at an event about leadership and character for elementary school students. News outlets report that many boys at Pickens Elementary School dressed in collared shirts and ties and heard from male role models from the community at a recent event called a “summit.” Girls, meanwhile, dressed in T-shirts and met with Pickens High School cheerleaders at a separate event called a “retreat.” A backlash erupted on social media, with critics complaining about the differing experiences for boys and girls. Some accused officials of sexism. The district is now apologizing. A statement says the events weren’t meant to send a message that students should display traits or pursue goals based on their gender.

South Dakota

Rosebud Indian Reservation: Leaders of Native American communities have embraced a statewide anti-meth ad campaign that has stirred online backlash. South Dakota officials are considering meth an epidemic. The state launched an awareness campaign last week with the tagline “Meth. We’re on it,” drawing jokes from people on social media. But state Secretary of Tribal Affairs Dave Flute tells KELO-TV that he supports the campaign. He says there aren’t enough talks about how meth is affecting tribal communities. Tribal leaders gathered Tuesday at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Indian Reservation for the second State-Tribal Meth Summit to discuss solutions. Flute says he’s worried about children trafficking or dealing the drug. The campaign targets Native American communities with billboards and local media ads.


Nashville: The state is moving forward with its plan to eliminate emissions testing in multiple counties and is preparing to ask the Trump administration to roll back regulations to make the change possible. The state hosted public hearings in Nashville and Chattanooga last week that moved the state one step closer to stopping annual emission tests for drivers. Next, the state will present the plan to the Air Pollution Control Board and then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation already has collected data showing emissions tests are no longer needed to keep air here clean and safe, although advocates say walking away from annual testing will have negative effects.


El Paso: No baloney: U.S. border agents seized more than 150 pounds of bologna from a driver entering the country from Mexico. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a news release that the driver told agents Thursday at the El Paso crossing that he had rolls of frozen turkey ham in his pickup truck. Upon further inspection, though, the agents determined that it was 154 pounds of Mexican bologna, which is made of pork. The agency says the driver was released, but the bologna was seized and destroyed. It says bologna can’t be carried across the border because it could introduce foreign animal diseases to the domestic pork industry.


Antelope Island: State wildlife officials have gathered mule deer on Antelope Island and flown them by helicopter to assess the health of the herd. The Standard-Examiner reports that about 50 blindfolded and restrained deer were flown last week, typically two or three at a time dangling below the aircraft in orange bags. They were taken to the island’s Fielding Garr Ranch, where biologists and other Utah Division of Wildlife Resources staffers checked various aspects of each animal’s health, including hind feet, body length and body fat. Authorities say the goal is to make sure the herd is at a healthy size, given the resources available. There are 400 to 500 deer living on the state park located on the Great Salt Lake.


Stowe: Snowboarders glided down a mountain Friday on the opening day of the season as a tribute to Jake Burton Carpenter, a pioneer in the sport who died last week. Carpenter, who founded Burlington-based Burton Snowboards, died Wednesday of cancer complications. He was 65. In announcing his death, CEO John Lacy encouraged employees to do “what Jake would be doing” on Friday, “and that’s riding.” And so they did, taking to the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort in the rain. They packed onto chairlifts and met at the top for a ceremony at the stone hut, a special place for Carpenter. Then they rode back down together. “It’s been a tough couple of days, but there’s nothing better than being together with Jake’s big family,” said Ian Warda, who works at Burton. Carpenter brought the snowboard to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business.


Harrisonburg: State Sen. Tommy Norment will lead Republicans as they prepare to operate in the minority in the state Senate. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the James City Republican was reelected to a leadership position Thursday. Norment was first elected to the Senate in 1992. He said in a statement that Republican leaders in the Statehouse will be “standing up for the Virginians who sent us here to be their voice and to represent their values.” Following November’s elections, Democrats will control power in the Senate with a slim majority of 21 seats to 19 seats.


Seattle: The King County Council has approved $100,000 in funding for a program that would bus the homeless outside the county. KING-TV reports council members earmarked the money as part of $450 million in supplemental funding for the 2019-2021 biennial budget. Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who championed the bus ticket funding, said the King County Executive’s Office will also work on the design of his proposed Homeward Bound program, which would combine the five programs that currently provide family reunification services. It would also hand out bus tickets to the homeless for any destination that’s not in King County or an adjacent county.

West Virginia

Charleston: State election officials say a record 8,020 people registered to vote in September. Secretary of State Mac Warner says the figure set a new state record for voter registration transactions in a single month. The tally was boosted by the registration of nearly 3,000 high school students. A national group of secretaries of state deemed September as national voter registration month to encourage election participation. The state has set up an online portal where eligible voters can register at Warner says more than 150,000 West Virginians have registered since he took office in 2017.


Madison: Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill that defines autocycles in state law and establishes registration fees for the vehicles. Autocycles are three-wheeled vehicles that seat one or two people. The Republican-authored bill defines autocycles as vehicles with three wheels in contact with the ground, seating that doesn’t require straddling and a steering wheel. The bill establishes a $45 annual registration fee. Evers signed the bill privately Friday. According to a state Department of Transportation estimate, 1,030 vehicles that fit the autocycle definition are currently registered in Wisconsin as motorcycles for a $23 biennial fee, which generates about $11,845 annually. The department projects it will cost about $160,000 to reprogram computers to implement the $45 fee and create autocycle license plates. The new fee should generate about $46,350 annually.


Gillette: The University of Wyoming School of Energy Research hopes to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy for research on the extraction of rare earth elements but needs local government support, The Gillette News Record reports. Gillette City Council and Campbell County officials said they would consider commitment letters at their respective meetings Thursday. Scientists say the elements are useful for batteries, magnets, lights, wind turbines and more. University scientists say they have completed research in the past but are looking for ways to potentially extract elements from the coal economically. Scientists say officials would need to commit over $187,000 over three years, and the university has already committed to $375,000 in that time.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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