Montgomery: Fifty-five years after the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, the third and final interpretive center along the 54-mile route is finally set to open on the Alabama State University campus. ASU President Quinton Ross announced the grand opening will be held March 25, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. leading tens of thousands of marchers to the steps of the Alabama State Capitol at the conclusion of the five-day march in 1965. Ahead of the official opening – a day more than a decade in the making – the center opened for a sneak peek to the community Saturday and Sunday. The National Park Service selected ASU as the site for the third center in 2008 and began construction in 2014. While the other two centers, in Selma and White Hall, have been opened, setbacks including a federal government shutdown have continued to stall the Montgomery project until now.
Fairbanks: While many locals escape harsh winter temperatures in February, Matthew Santiago embraced them. Matthew, 8, of Orlando, Florida, is a cancer survivor who expressed a desire to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make a snowman in Alaska. His dream was fulfilled last week at the Fairbanks Ice Art Park, television station KTVF reports. Matthew has battled Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells, with chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, stem cell transplants, radiation treatment and months of immunotherapy. The ice art park features ice sculptures and activities for children such as ice slides. Park officials offered Matthew more than a tour. They let him help harvest a thick block of ice from a pond. Matthew was lifted into a telescopic forklift. With assistance from a heavy equipment operator, he jerked the machine forward and lifted a massive cube of ice for sculpting.
Tucson: Mission San Xavier is set to undergo its biggest preservation project in more than a decade. The Arizona Daily Star reports scaffolding could go up by late fall around the iconic church’s east tower. Workers will spend the next two years carefully removing and replacing problematic plaster around the structure’s centuries-old brick walls. Patronato San Xavier has overseen preservation and fundraising for Arizona’s oldest intact European structure since 1978. During the 1940s and 1950s, the mission’s well-meaning stewards covered the building with concrete plaster made from Portland cement. But decades later, caretakers discovered that moisture trapped by the concrete plaster was being drawn by gravity down through the building, damaging the walls and interior. The old stuff will be replaced with new coats of traditional lime-washed plaster mixed with cactus juice, which allows the walls to breathe and release moisture.
Little Rock: Supporters of a state law to expand the procedures optometrists may perform filed a new lawsuit Friday to prevent an effort to repeal the measure from appearing on the ballot this fall. The group, Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify the referendum on the eye surgery law from the November ballot. The law approved by the Legislature last year would allow optometrists to perform several procedures that previously only ophthalmologists could, including injections around the eye, removing lesions from the eyelids and certain laser eye surgeries. The lawsuit contends that signature-gatherers gave out misleading information about the law. It also challenges the wording of the referendum and the validity of thousands of signatures submitted. A Pulaski County judge last month dismissed another lawsuit by Arkansans for Healthy Eyes aimed at blocking the referendum effort.
San Diego: A baby hippopotamus born at the San Diego Zoo last month has a name. The zoo says the river hippo calf will be called Amahle, which means “beautiful one” in Zulu. The name was announced Friday on “Good Morning America,” which held an online poll asking viewers to choose among three African names. Amahle, born Feb. 8, weighs about 100 pounds and is “active and healthy,” a zoo statement said. Amahle is the ninth hippo calf born at the zoo and the 13th to her mother, Funani. Amahle’s father, Otis, is an East African hippo who arrived at the zoo in 2009 specifically to breed with Funani, zoo officials said. Zoo visitors can see Amahle and her mother in the hippo habitat on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends, officials said.
Denver: An elected prosecutor for the state’s northeastern rural plains surrendered to authorities Friday, one day after being indicted on drug charges following an investigation by the state’s attorney general. Brittny Lewton, 40, was charged with three drug felonies, including conspiracy and possession, as well as official misconduct, a misdemeanor, according to online court records. She turned herself in to authorities in Logan County, one of seven counties in the 13th Judicial District where she serves as the district attorney. Online court records did not specify the type of drug or drugs in the indictment, which has not been made public. Lewton’s attorney, Stan Garnett, said the charges appear to be based on one incident in July 2019 involving an alleged exchange of prescription medication. Garnett, a former district attorney in Boulder County, said he could not elaborate.
Hartford: An expert on torture with the United Nations is calling out the use of solitary confinement as punishment in the state’s prisons, saying it could amount to psychological torture. Nils Melzer, special rapporteur on torture for the U.N., criticized on Friday the use of solitary confinement in the United States but specifically mentioned Connecticut’s Department of Correction’s practices. “The DOC appears to routinely resort to repressive measures, such as prolonged or indefinite isolation, excessive use of in-cell restraints and needlessly intrusive strip searches,” Melzer said in a statement. “There seems to be a State-sanctioned policy aimed at purposefully inflicting severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, which may well amount to torture.” He said the alleged practices can trigger and exacerbate psychological suffering, especially for those who may have experienced previous trauma or have mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities.
Wilmington: A 12-year-old boy was arrested Thursday after he ordered Chinese food, then stole the delivery driver’s car, New Castle County Police said. Officers were dispatched to the Paladin Club Apartments for a vehicle theft, police said. When they arrived, they spotted the vehicle driving through the complex. The officers turned on their emergency lights, and the vehicle began to slow down. Before the vehicle stopped, the boy got out and ran, police said, and the driverless vehicle then drifted into a marked patrol car. Police caught the boy in a neighboring apartment complex. No injuries were reported, and both vehicles sustained minor damage. The boy was arrested and charged with vehicle theft, resisting arrest, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, an official said. He was arraigned and released to his parent on $1,450 unsecured bail, an official said.
District of Columbia
Washington: The nation’s capital will soon have two statues on display in the nation’s Capitol, just like the 50 states, after a concerted effort lasting more than 10 years, WUSA-TV reports. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she will accept a second statue to be displayed on the House of Representatives’ side of the Capitol. Pierre L’Enfant, the architect of D.C.’s layout and the National Mall, will be memorialized among the Capitol’s statue collection. In 2013, D.C. got to display its first statue in the Capitol. Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ likeness sits in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center. The L’Enfant statue is currently on display in the lobby of 1 Judiciary Square, a D.C. government building. It will be the sixth statue listed under “other statues” that are on display at the Capitol. Neither L’Enfant’s or Douglass’ statue will be considered part of the official National Statuary Hall Collection.
Panama City: Spring breakers be forewarned: You still can’t drink booze in March on the beach in this town seeking to curb rowdy parties. The Panama City News Herald reports that the monthlong ban is paired with a 2 a.m. deadline to buy alcohol anywhere within city limits. Panama City Police Chief Drew Whitman says a zero-tolerance policy originally enacted in 2015 has helped the city transition from a national spring break hot spot to a more family-friendly destination all year long. Whitman says enforcing the ban includes extra officers on the beach, some on all-terrain vehicles. Violators can be fined or even jailed.
Atlanta: A state Supreme Court justice announced Friday that he plans to resign in November, citing family obligations. Justice Keith Blackwell, 44, said in a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp that he has decided to return to private law practice, according to a statement from the court. “Our oldest daughter will leave for college in only a couple of years, and her sisters will follow not long behind,” Blackwell wrote. “I have decided that it is best for my family that I return to the private practice of law.” Blackwell was appointed to the high court in 2012 by then-Gov. Nathan Deal after having served for two years on the state Court of Appeals. His last day on the Supreme Court will be Nov. 18, and Kemp will appoint his replacement. Justice Robert Benham announced earlier this year that he would retire March 1. The process to find his replacement, also to be appointed by Kemp, is underway.
Honolulu: The speaker of the state’s House of Representatives said Friday that he wants to form a committee to examine the potential economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak so lawmakers can be prepared to cut spending if tax revenue drops sharply. Scott Saiki recalled the state had to slash $2.1 billion in spending from state budgets over a three-year period when tax revenue sank during the recession a decade ago. That led to furloughs for government employees, a four-day week for public school students, and dramatic cuts to mental health and other services. The speaker said he wasn’t proposing to cut spending and build up financial reserves but wanted to assess the economic effect of the outbreak before taking such steps. But such cuts are a possibility, he said. Saiki said House members would vote Tuesday on a resolution that would create a select committee including government officials, industry leaders and union members.
Boise: A bill that would ban any public money from going to organizations that provide abortions was approved Friday by a panel of state lawmakers despite opposition on both sides of the abortion debate, including some who complained that it still allowed exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest. The House State Affairs Committee sent the legislation to the full House with a “do pass” recommendation. Federal and state law already ban public funding for abortion except in certain circumstances. But health care providers who perform abortions can receive public funding for other medical services. The bill aims to prevent any public funding from going to health care providers if they perform abortions except for in certain situations. Those exceptions are narrower than the ones already set by state law, and the Idaho attorney general’s office has warned lawmakers that the legislation would likely draw lawsuits.
Chicago: A spike in crime on the city’s rail system and some recent high-profile outbursts of violence have prompted the police department to put 50 more officers in trains and on platforms and assign four detectives to investigate nothing but Chicago Transit Authority crimes, officials announced Friday. Hours after the new security plan was unveiled, Chicago police said an officer shot a man on the platform of a CTA station in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Officers confronted the man after he was observed moving from car to car of a moving train, a city ordinance violation, said Deputy Superintendent Barbara West. The wounded man was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition after surgery, West said. Days before the announcement by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck, riders began seeing more police SWAT officers boarding trains and manning platforms on the nation’s second-largest public transit system.
Indianapolis: One of the state’s largest school districts canceled bus service Friday after too many drivers called in sick in an apparent labor dispute, and parents were warned over the weekend to find “alternative ways” to get their kids to school Monday morning. Indianapolis Public Schools said schools remained open, but students unable to get to them because of no buses would not be marked absent. The city’s public schools will open Monday, regardless of whether bus service is restored for all of its students, the district said Saturday evening. Superintendent Aleesia Johnson and other district leaders were meeting with representatives for the bus drivers’ union to resolve the situation, district spokeswoman Carrie Cline Black said. IPS announced Jan. 30 that it would not renew a contract with bus vendor Durham School Services that expires June 30 in a cost-cutting move.
Indianola: Warren County supervisors have approved construction of a long-sought justice center in the city. The board on Thursday backed a trimmed-down plan for the $30 million-plus project. Construction is expected to begin this summer with a goal of completion in the next 18 to 19 months. The new plan retains the four courtrooms and 88-bed jail. Voters had approved $29.9 million for the project in 2018, but the bids came in more than $7 million higher. A referendum to let the county borrow an additional $3.5 million for the project gained support from nearly 56% of the voters, but the referendum required approval from 60%. The state had ordered the county to close the jail. Among its problems: failing a state fire marshal’s inspection, inadequate water supplies, inmate escapes, mold, cleanliness. The jail was on the third floor of the Indianola courthouse, which has since been torn down.
Wichita: A foul-mouthed judge who cursed at courthouse employees so often that a trial clerk kept a “swear journal” documenting his outbursts should be publicly censured and receive professional coaching but not kicked off the bench, a disciplinary panel recommended Friday. The Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct unanimously concluded that Montgomery County Judge F. William Cullins violated central judicial canons of independence, integrity and impartiality. Its recommendations will be sent to the Kansas Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide his fate. An admonishment or a “cease and desist” order was not sufficient discipline, the panel concluded. His attorney, Chris Joseph, had argued during disciplinary proceedings that his speech is protected by the First Amendment and does not diminish his integrity. But Cullins’ use of foul, derogatory words directed at women manifested a clear bias based on sex, the panel found.
Louisville: More than 150 members of the local Cuban community snaked through the city Saturday in a caravan of U.S. and Cuban flag-draped cars, calling for an end to Cuba’s socialist government. With horns blaring and Cuban music blasting, the rally came in the wake of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ praise for Cuba’s high literacy rate. Critics said it lacked context, partly because Cubans aren’t free to read and write what they want. At the rally Saturday, signs read “No Socialism in America,” “Cuba Libra” and “Make Cuba Great Again,” mixed in with signs supporting President Donald Trump. Others said they were Democrats, reflecting the Cuban community’s political diversity. The attendees gathered outside a Cuban market, giving fiery speeches denouncing the Cuban government, before driving through the city to a parking lot near Louisville Slugger Field downtown, where they they sang the old Cuban national anthem.
Baton Rouge: Three state historic sites are open for additional days to visitors starting this month, the Office of State Parks announced. The Audubon State Historic Site in St. Francisville, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in St. Martinville and Port Hudson State Historic Site near Baton Rouge will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The expanded visiting hours start Monday. “This goes a long way in fulfilling our mission to provide the best possible experience of all of Louisiana’s treasure to both our residents and our visitors,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who oversees the state parks and historic sites, said in a statement. The three facilities join Poverty Point World Heritage Site and Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site in operating seven days a week.
Fort Kent: Thirteen mushers have launched their annual dash across the wilderness of northern Maine. The 250-mile Can-Am Crown kicked off Saturday in Fort Kent with mushers from Maine, Minnesota, Iowa and several Canadian provinces. The grueling course takes mushers to Portage Lake and then to the town of Allagash before looping back to Fort Kent by Monday morning. Each race is different. The temperature plummeted to minus-38 during the first Can-Am Crown and then soared to 61 degrees a year later. But the weather is cooperating this year. A winter storm on Thursday left a fresh layer of 10 inches of snow on the course, and temperatures were dipping to single digits at night, ideal conditions for the dogs.
Baltimore: A $3.2 million study that was supposed to evaluate the city’s risk of storm flooding was suspended after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to secure federal funding. The agency’s Baltimore division announced Tuesday that work would be halted on the risk management study. It would have, in part, assessed the vulnerability of Baltimore’s port terminals, highways, evacuation routes, hospitals, public utilities and local airport facilities in the case of severe storms, the Corps said. The Baltimore region was identified as a focus area due its high susceptibility to flooding outlined in a 2015 report in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to the agency. The Corps said it will request the funding again during the 2021 fiscal year.
Boston: New England Aquarium officials have expressed opposition to a proposed 600-foot skyscraper that would be built in place of the Boston Harbor Garage. A crowd gathered Thursday at the first public meeting to discuss concerns for Don Chiofaro’s proposed $1.2 billion, 42-story skyscraper, the Boston Herald reports. The proposed tower, called “The Pinnacle,” would have two floors for retail and dining, 22 floors of office space, and 200 apartments on the top 18 floors, according to plans filed with the Boston Planning & Development Agency. “The New England Aquarium stands in staunch opposition to this proposed development,” said Vikki Spruill, the president and CEO of the New England Aquarium. “Climate change is at the heart of our concerns about this development. … This is about the future of our downtown waterfront.” The aquarium is located on Central Wharf behind the garage.
Detroit: The outlook on the city’s debt has been upgraded from “stable” to “positive” by Moody’s Investors Service. The adjustment means the city’s finances are pointing in a positive direction, and there is a higher chance the city will be upgraded in the next year or two, Moody’s said in a news release. The rating and new outlook apply to $135 million of general obligation debt. Moody’s affirmed the city’s Ba3 bond rating and added that the rating remains three notches below investment grade. Moody’s said the revised outlook reflects the city budget’s ability to finance service improvements and capital investments and to accommodate an increase in pension contributions. The city emerged from bankruptcy in December 2014, having restructured or wiped out $7 billion in debt.
Minneapolis: Janitors who work at Twin Cities commercial buildings are striking as part of a push for higher wages and better benefits in their contracts. The Star Tribune reports more than 100 janitors walked off the job Thursday and rallied along Nicollet Mall, waving signs and beating drums outside the skyscrapers they clean each day. They were joined by a separate group of youth climate strikers who marched in solidarity. The Service Employees International Union, which represents 4,000 janitors who clean Twin Cities commercial buildings, organized the daylong strike before a bargaining session Friday. Members have also been pushing for paid sick days and a program to expand the use of nontoxic cleaning chemicals, among other things.
Jackson: Authorities on Saturday released the identity of one of two inmates who died earlier in the week at a penitentiary that is under U.S. Justice Department investigation. The Mississippi Department of Corrections said Timothy R. Sharpe, who was serving a 20-year-sentence for sexual battery and child molestation, died Friday at the prison hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. He was 61. The statement said the name of another inmate who died Thursday at Parchman’s prison hospital hasn’t been released pending notification of relatives. The statement didn’t give any details about the deaths. In a news release Friday, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said there was “no evidence of foul play” in either death. Autopsies were planned in both cases. With those included, at least 21 inmates have died in Mississippi prisons since late December.
Jefferson City: Democrats in the state House want to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but their proposals have yet to be assigned to a committee for a hearing. The sponsor of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, state Rep. Greg Razer of Kansas City, told St. Louis Public Radio he’s frustrated about the lack of progress. State law already bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex and disability. Past proposals to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity have fallen flat in the Legislature. Opponents say they believe businesses should be able to create their own policies. Democrats are also concerned about a proposed constitutional amendment that would require all public school athletes to compete against students of their biological rather than chosen sex. Opponents fear it would unfairly exclude transgender students or put them at risk of harassment.
Billings: For the first time in a decade, schools in the state are using fewer emergency authorizations than the year before as small, rural schools continue to struggle finding teachers. The state’s “last resort” option effectively allows teachers to work in a school for a year despite not being qualified to do so under state law. Its numbers have mushroomed in recent years as the state encouraged schools to use the option instead of taking an accreditation ding. In 2019-2020, it dropped to 84 compared to 94 last school year. Montana’s small rural schools have long struggled to attract and keep qualified teachers, but the shortage has reached “crisis” levels in recent years, according to experts. The decrease is far from a sign that the issue is solved, and it’s still the second highest figure in recent years.
Lincoln: Selling the natural gas generated at one of the city’s wastewater treatment plants will produce $2 million of new revenue annually, the mayor said. The sales also will further the city goal of environmental sustainability, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said Thursday. Lincoln has used the gas to produce electricity that helped power the wastewater treatment plant. City officials decided in 2017, however, that upgrading the system at the Theresa Street plant and selling the biogas locally or nationally would provide a greater return on investment. The $8 million upgrade will be complete this summer, and city officials plan to begin sales under an agreement with a Utah-based energy management company, Blue Source. The Blue Source contract is set for public hearing and a council vote Monday.
Las Vegas: The state’s casinos continued a hot streak in January, topping $1 billion in house winnings for the second consecutive month and eighth time in the past year. The state Gaming Control Board on Friday reported the statewide “casino win” figure was slightly lower than in December but was up almost 5.5% compared with the same month in 2019. Board analyst Michael Lawton said casinos reported increases in all categories, including table games, blackjack, roulette, sports betting, slot machines and baccarat. Baccarat winnings sometimes jump or drop significantly in a month. They were up 17% in January, totaling more than $112 million. Lawton noted the game is a favorite of Asian tourists, and the Chinese Lunar New Year fell in January this year. The holiday was in February last year.
Concord: State officials will use federal funds to examine the effects of rising seas on major highways and connecting routes along the coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is funding a “vulnerability assessment” for the I-95, Route 1 and Route 1A corridors and local connector roads, New Hampshire Public Radio reports. Researchers will combine traffic models and climate change projections to determine what areas have a higher risk of flooding from rising sea levels. A 2015 report by the Rockingham Planning Commission found that a 1.7-foot rise in sea levels would flood 5 miles of New Hampshire coastal roads. A 4-foot rise would flood more than 23 miles of roads. A state report released last year estimated that a 1-to-3-foot rise is “likely” by 2100 under most scenarios and that there is a 1-in-20 chance that a 4-foot rise could happen by the turn of the next century.
West Orange: A dozen sea turtles that nearly froze when they were too far north last fall as water temperatures abruptly plunged off the state’s coast survived that ordeal but remain threatened by the pneumonia most of them developed afterward. Sea Turtle Recovery, a nonprofit group operating out of the Turtle Back Zoo in northern New Jersey, got the turtles through their initial medical crisis, with two needing CPR. But 11 of them went on to develop pneumonia, a common problem in turtles that survive so-called cold-stunning and one that could yet kill some of them. The turtles are being treated with medications, and their progress and conditions are checked daily in a hospital on the grounds of the turtle-themed zoo that is popular with children. Ten of the 12 are green turtles, along with one loggerhead and one endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtle.
Albuquerque: U.S. land managers on Friday made public a list of possible alternatives for managing development in one of the nation’s oldest oil and gas basins, but environmentalists and others say the options fail to take into account the cumulative costs of increased drilling and threats to Native American cultural sites in northwestern New Mexico. Officials with the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs indicated their preference for an alternative that would “balance community needs and development” while limiting impacts on the traditional, socioeconomic and cultural way of life of those who call the area home. The alternative emphasizes local and tribal perspectives and includes a range of options for limiting development around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, the officials said. The World Heritage site has become the focal point in a decadeslong fight over oil and gas.
Seneca Falls: People threw punches and were dragged to the ground Saturday as a long-simmering leadership dispute in the Cayuga Indian Nation flared up for a second time in a week. The altercation followed a news conference by a group of chiefs who oppose the authority of Clint Halftown, the federally recognized leader of the roughly 500-member western New York tribe. Halftown on Feb. 22 sent bulldozers to demolish a convenience store and other buildings controlled by tribe members who oppose him. The seven chiefs called a news conference Saturday adjacent to a disputed property to address the incident and brought supporters from other American Indian nations that make up the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. A group that crossed the caution tape and walked onto the property after the news conference was immediately confronted by a large group wearing Cayuga Nation Police jackets, and fighting broke out, according to The Citizen of Auburn.
Raleigh: The shuffling of Gov. Roy Cooper’s original Cabinet became official Friday with changes at the transportation and information technology departments. Eric Boyette, the new Department of Transportation secretary, and Tracy Doaks, secretary of the information technology department, were sworn in to their posts by Court of Appeals Judge Reuben Young in a private ceremony, Cooper’s office said. Doaks, most recently the chief deputy state chief information officer, suceeded Boyette as secretary at the state IT office. At DOT, Boyette succeeded Jim Trogdon, who retired from state government. Boyette previously worked in DOT as inspector general and the Division of Motor Vehicles commissioner before going over to information technology in 2015. Cooper announced the changes last month. The other eight members of Cooper’s Cabinet from 2017 are still in their original jobs.
Bismarck: A man shot and killed by police last month did not fire at officers as authorities initially reported, though he did point a handgun at them, justifying the use of deadly force. The Bismarck Tribune reports an investigation found Cody Carnes, 30, of Bismarck, also had a handful of encounters with police in the two weeks leading up to his death that were tied to alleged drug use, mental health issues and threats against law enforcement. Burleigh County State’s Attorney Julie Lawyer on Monday said the shooting of Carnes was justifiable. Authorities said Carnes pointed a gun at officers outside his window after police were called to a noise complaint at his residence Jan. 9. A report that Lawyer sent to Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch stated that one of the two firing officers “believed he saw and heard Carnes fire a round from the handgun and returned fire,” but the other officer “stated he did not believe that Carnes had fired the handgun.”
Columbus: A proposed constitutional amendment that would set 16-year term limits on legislators serving in the state House or Senate has cleared its initial hurdle. Ohioans for Legislative Term Limits is the group seeking to close a loophole that’s allowed multiple legislators to jump back and forth between the House and Senate after reaching the current eight-year limit in one or the other chamber. The group’s goal is to place the amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot. Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s office certified the campaign’s first 1,000 signatures Thursday and also certified that the summary petition language is “fair and truthful.” The issue goes next to the state Ballot Board, which must determine whether it contains a single issue or multiple issues.
Norman: Dozens of students at the University of Oklahoma have ended a sit-in outside the school’s administrative offices following two instances in which professors used racial slurs in their classrooms. The three-day sit-in organized by the Black Emergency Response Team ended Friday with the student group saying progress had been made. OU Dean of Students David Surratt said in a statement Friday that the students “raised legitimate concerns,” and their demands “were actually solutions” the university has included in a strategic plan to be presented to OU regents. One idea was the creation of a student advisory committee. BERT co-director Miles Francisco told The Oklahoman that the student advisory committee will provide “insights and advice to the office of the senior president and provost.”
Portland: A federal judge said he wouldn’t block new city housing screening and security deposit rules that took effect over the weekend because a rental industry group waited too long to file a legal challenge. U.S. District Judge Michael Simon on Thursday said he was denying a request from Multifamily NW for a temporary restraining order to delay two Fair Access in Renting ordinances. He said it was because the almost yearlong gap between when the City Council approved them and when the group sued Feb. 21 “implies a lack of urgency or a lack of irreparable harm,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. Multifamily NW and two landlords sued the city, claiming the new rules were unconstitutional and ultimately should never go into effect. Simon said he didn’t believe U.S. District Court was the appropriate venue to sort out the constitutionality of city policies.
Philadelphia: A man stole an ambulance and tried to run over an officer who shot him three times, leading to a low-speed chase through the city that lasted more than an hour Friday night, authorities said. Authorities were called to a motel in northeast Philadelphia about 9:20 p.m. for reports of a domestic disturbance involving a man and a woman that necessitated medical attention for one or more parties, Staff Inspector Sekou Kinebrew of Philadelphia police said. The man became combative and jumped into the ambulance, driving at one of the officers who medics called for backup, Kinebrew said. The officer fired his weapon four times, striking the man three times: twice in the left leg and once in the side. The officer was struck by the ambulance and hospitalized with injuries that Kinebrew described as non-life-threatening.
Providence: Former British Prime Minister Theresa May is speaking at Brown University this week. May is giving an address about global affairs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the university’s campus in Providence. University President Christina Paxson will lead a discussion on the successes, challenges and inspirations behind May’s decadeslong government career. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must register in advance, and tickets are limited. May served as prime minister for three years. In her final months, Parliament repeatedly rejected the Brexit divorce deal with the European Union that was the cornerstone of her administration. She finally accepted that her Conservative Party was hopelessly divided on the issue and succumbed to pressure to step down. May’s address is titled “Politics, Populism and Polarization: Perspectives on the Global Economy.”
Travelers Rest: Investigators shut down an entire state park Saturday as they searched for a man wanted for murder, but they didn’t find the suspect. Greenville County deputies found an SUV they think was driven by Ryan Kedar just outside Paris Mountain State Park and decided to close the park, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood said. About 100 officers searched all day Saturday at the park north of Greenville but did not find Kedar or anything else except for the SUV tying him to the park, Flood said in a statement. Kedar allegedly shot and killed 58-year-old Mark Jermon at a park in Taylors on Wednesday, authorities said. The men knew each other, but deputies aren’t sure what led to the shooting, Flood said. Kedar, 49, is an avid camper and hiker at state and national parks, Flood said.
Sturgis: A motorcycle club is opposing a move by the city to annex some of the club’s property on the western edge of town. Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club President Brett Winsell said the annexation goes beyond the potential for higher property taxes. He said the club is more concerned with current and future city ordinances concerning noise, signage and other issues that may prevent the club from staging its races and other events on the grounds. The Jackpine Gypsies and founder J.C. Pappy Hoel began the Sturgis motorcycle rally in 1938 and have hosted motorcycle races, hill climbs, motocross and other events. City Manager Daniel Ainslie said the Jackpine Gypsies property and other parcels under consideration for annexation benefit from city services and should pay for them. The Rapid City Journal reports a public hearing is scheduled Monday, followed by a council vote on the intent to annex.
Manchester: More than three months before the start of the 2020 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, the event is already sold out in record time. That includes all general admission passes and VIP packages, plus the new mid-tier “GA+” tickets. Bonnaroo says this is the quickest sellout in the festival’s 19-year history. For comparison’s sake, last year’s event was also a rare sellout, but that didn’t happen until the day before the music began. It also continues an impressive commercial rebound for the fest. Last year marked Bonnaroo’s first sellout since 2013 and came three years after a dismal 2016, when ticket sales hit an all-time low of roughly 46,000 in 2016. The 2020 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival takes place June 11-14 at Great Stage Park in Manchester. Lizzo, Tool and Tame Impala headline, alongside Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, Bassnectar, The 1975 and Flume, among 100-plus acts.
San Antonio: State health officials say people who visited the cattle barn at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo may need to be assessed for possible rabies exposure because a cow there had the virus. The Texas Department of State Health Services said Saturday that people who visited the barn Feb. 11-14 may need to be assessed. Health officials say they’ve been in contact with the people who were caring for the cow and the animals in nearby stalls. The cow was being shown by a student. Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It can be prevented if treatment is started before symptoms begin; however, once symptoms start, it’s almost always fatal, health officials said. If someone is exposed, it usually takes between three weeks and three months for them to get sick.
Salt Lake City: Polygamy wouldn’t be a felony crime in the state for the first time in 85 years under a bill that passed the Legislature on Friday and appears to be supported by the governor. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for the proposal that supporters said will allow the 30,000 or so people living in the state’s polygamous communities to come out of the shadows and report abuses such as underage marriage by other polygamists without fear of prosecution. “It seems so surreal; you’re so used to it not being this way,” said Joe Darger, a Utah polygamist who has three wives. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has indicated he will likely sign the proposal that makes polygamy between consenting adults an infraction, like a traffic offense, that carries no possible jail time. “This one has overwhelming support, though it’s not without some controversy,” Herbert said during his monthly news conference at PBS Utah on Thursday.
Ferrisburgh: Oliver the camel, a quirky roadside attraction and social media darling, has died at age 17 in Vermont. “Ollie” delighted travelers along Route 7 in Ferrisburgh for nearly two decades. Many motorists stopped for photos and selfies with the friendly creature, which sported two humps. Oliver Camel’s Facebook page anounced Friday that he died Feb. 21. It did not cite the cause of his death. The Facebook post noted that “Ollie” was loved and spoiled and looking forward to an afterlife. “My next adventure is ahead and I am ready to take it on – to go where no camel has gone before!!” the post said. Ollie lived on a sheep farm. He was a Bactrian camel that’s native to Asia, so the cold weather didn’t bother him. His owner didn’t immediately return a message Saturday.
Richmond: Officials from southwest Virginia have mounted a last-minute push to oppose the possible early closure of one of the country’s newest coal plants. A Dominion Energy facility in Wise County that opened eight years ago and is frequently touted as the cleanest of its type could close decades sooner than expected under a sweeping rewrite of the state’s energy generation policy that Democrats are advancing through the General Assembly. Advocates of the bill say Virginia needs to move away from fossil fuel-fired generation in order to address climate change. But Republican lawmakers and local officials in southwest Virginia have called its potential early retirement a “tragedy” that would blow a hole in the budgets of two localities and devastate a region that’s been working to revitalize an economy built on coal mining but isn’t there yet.
Seattle: A man who recently served prison time on a gun charge amassed an arsenal of homemade “ghost guns” after his release even though he was on federal supervision, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court. Nathan Brasfield, 40, of Edmonds, was sentenced to four years in prison after a 2014 arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He began a three-year term of supervised release in October 2017. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle said in a federal complaint unsealed Thursday that when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched his home and vehicle Feb. 6, they found dozens of guns as well as several machines used in home manufacturing of firearms: a 3-D printer, drill press and computer numerical control machine – also known as a “ghost gunner.” Agents reported finding 17 pistols, 24 rifles and 10 silencers, with most of the guns being homemade and having no serial numbers.
Charleston: The state may soon stiffen fines for restaurants that fail to secure the lids of grease pits after a young girl fell into one of the collection traps last year. The House of Delegates on Friday unanimously approved a measure to increase fines from $5 to $50 per day for businesses that don’t secure the grease pit lids. The proposal, which was unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month, now goes back to that chamber with some minor amendments. The bill followed an incident last November in which 5-year-old Kambria Cvechko stepped on one of the lids outside a Charleston restaurant and fell into the pit’s narrow opening, submerging into the dark, putrid grease. Her panicked mother scurried down the hole headfirst as two other children anchored her feet, clawing through the slick liquid for her daughter’s arms as she could hear the girl gasping for air. Eventually, Kambria was lifted out of the pit without any major injuries.
Milwaukee: Gov. Tony Evers vetoed Republican lawmakers’ tough-on-crime legislation Friday. The vetoes were hardly a surprise, as the governor campaigned on cutting the state’s prison population in half. The bills would have required the Department of Corrections to recommend revoking a person’s extended supervision, parole or probation if he or she is charged with a crime; expanded the list the violations that could land a child in a youth prison to include any act that would be an adult felony; forbid prosecutors from amending charges of illegally possessing a gun against a person convicted of a violent felony or attempting to commit a violent felony; and blocked violent criminals from participating in early release programs. Evers said in his veto messages that the revocation recommendation bill would have cost the state $200 million in just the first two years. The DOC has projected the bill would force the agency to build two new prisons to handle the influx of new inmates.
Cheyenne: A measure to impose a 5% statewide lodging tax appears likely to pass the Legislature after the state Senate approved it. The Senate, which defeated a similar bill last year, passed the lodging tax measure Friday by a 16-13 vote. The measure had previously passed the House. A committee must negotiate differences in the versions that each chamber approved before the bill advances to the governor. Gov. Mark Gordon has previously endorsed the bill, saying a lodging tax is the only new tax he would support. Wyoming is seeking ways to shore up its budget amid declining energy production revenue, but the Republican-dominated Legislature is reluctant to support tax increases. Other tax bills have been defeated in the legislative session or failed to generate enough support to be introduced.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ollie the camel, cactus-juice walls: News from around our 50 states