Montgomery: Alabama is turning to social media to encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Department of Public Health announced a TikTok contest to encourage young people to get vaccinated before the start of the school year. The contest is for people ages 13 to 29. To participate, contestants should submit a TikTok video showing themselves getting vaccinated or include a creative message explaining, “This is why I got vaccinated.” All videos must tag @alcovidvaccine, #getvaccinatedAL and #ADPH. Winners will be determined based on creativity, originality and popularity measured by the numbers of likes and shares. The videos should be submitted by Aug. 6. Advertising professionals and department staff will select four winners who will each receive a $250 Visa gift card. Winners will be announced Aug. 13 on the @alcovidvaccine TikTok account and promoted on Department of Public Health social media. Complete contest rules, information and guidance about COVID-19 can be found www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19vaccine/tiktok.html.
Juneau: Alaska had about 17,000 more jobs last month than it did in June 2020, with most industries seeing gains over that period but still falling below prepandemic levels, a report released by the state labor department showed. The state had about 30,600 fewer jobs last month than in June 2019, according to the report. Industries hit hard during 2020 saw big gains in the new report, the department said. For example, there were 4,500 more jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than a year earlier and 4,200 more in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. However, there were 11,300 fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than in June 2019 and 6,300 fewer in trade, transportation and utilities, according to the report. Health care employment and construction were up from June 2020 and equaled their June 2019 numbers. Manufacturing, which the department said is mainly seafood processing, had 1,200 more jobs last month than a year earlier and 100 fewer than in June 2019.
Phoenix: Gov. Doug Ducey announced he’s using $101.1 million of federal relief funding to launch a new program to encourage more tourism spending in the state and help the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic. The Visit Arizona Initiative will use the American Rescue Plan money to help the tourism sector of the state’s economy to prosper and “continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic,” Ducey said in a statement. Examples of planned funding uses include destination and travel marketing, local programs and events, state park improvements, Arizona State Fair marketing and a workplace initiative for the hospitality industry. Ducey’s move to bolster the tourism industry followed his announcement that he was tapping federal cash from the American Rescue Plan to refill the state unemployment insurance trust fund.
Fort Smith:The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has added Sebastian, Logan, Prairie and White counties to a state quarantine to try and prevent the spread of fire ants. The designation means people cannot remove any of the following items from the quarantine zone without treating them: nursery stock with soil or potting media, grass sod, baled hay stored in contact with the soil, baled straw stored in contact with the soil, as well as soil and used soil-moving equipment. There are 43 counties in the quarantine, according to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Paul Shell, a plant inspection and quarantine program manager with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, estimated that fire ants have been present in the state since the 1980s. Fire ants spread naturally through flight but can also spread when people move soil. Fire ants can inflict painful stings multiple times and can cause allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock.
Petrolia: A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the northern California coast late Saturday. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake just before midnight was about 7.5 miles west of Petrolia in Humboldt County and 35 miles southwest of Eureka. The depth was just over 18.5 miles. The shaking could be felt as far south as San Francisco and as far east as beyond Yuba City, according to reports submitted to the USGS. Further details weren’t immediately available.
Colorado Springs: The north end of Denver International Airport’s terminal is about to become unrecognizable when the Hensel Phelps construction firm begins building new security checkpoints as the Great Hall improvements reach Phase 2. Plans call for three escalators to move people from the new sixth-floor security station directly to the train platform. Improvement should be functioning by the beginning of 2024, said outgoing airport CEO Kim Day, who retired Friday after 13 years at the helm. Phase 1 included expanding the number of gates by 39, adding four additional restrooms and improving the check-in stations for Southwest, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines. The new check-in points are now on Level 6, above the existing TSA security checkpoints. Hensel Phelps took over for the previous general contractor, which was fired two years ago after delays and cost overruns. The new security area is to include “state of the art” screening technology, new line processes and streamlined procedures, Day said.
Stamford: Former Major League Baseball player and manager Bobby Valentine has raised about $300,000 for his independent campaign for mayor of Stamford since announcing his bid in May, including donations from former President George W. Bush and other high-profile Republicans. Bush gave $500 to Valentine’s campaign, Hearst Connecticut Media reported Saturday, citing financial disclosures. Bush was managing partner of the Texas Rangers in 1992 when the team fired Valentine as manager. Valentine, a Stamford native, also received $1,000 maximum contributions from Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director for former President Donald Trump, and Linda McMahon, former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Trump and former chief executive of Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment. The $300,000 in individual contributions is more than the two Democrats running for mayor raised during the first half of this year, the records showed. Democratic Mayor David Martin has collected more than $78,000 in individual donations as he seeks a third term, and state Rep. Caroline Simmons has raised nearly $140,000.
Dewey Beach:The city has opted to triple its police department’s liability insurance, noting a rise in civil rights lawsuits. The Dewey Beach Town Council voted recently to increase the coverage from $1 million to $3 million, the News Journal reported. “I think it’s prudent for the town to consider upping the amount to protect us, so, God forbid, something happened we wouldn’t have to liquidate any town assets,” said Police Chief Sam Mackert during a July 9 council meeting. Mackert said he has been watching other towns across the country pay settlements far beyond Dewey Beach’s policy limit. The town has a total budget under $4 million. The increase in coverage will lead to a hike in its premium. The town already had some money budgeted for it and will use funds from its real estate transfer tax to help make up the difference, the newspaper reported. “You hope and pray that you never have to use it,” Commissioner Paul Bauer said. “But better safe than sorry.”
District of Columbia
Washington:The Golden Triangle Business Improvement District told WUSA9-TV last week that small businesses could receive multiple months of free rent as part of a new program to help the area recover from a high number of vacant office and retail spaces. The Golden Triangle area stretches 44 square blocks from Dupont Circle to Pennsylvania Avenue. A spokesperson for the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District said the area encompasses 34 million square feet of office space and can attract almost 90,000 workers a day. However, the pandemic brought closures and forced many of the workers to work remotely. Buildings that usually bustled with activity had only about 8% occupancy for months, according to BID data, and pedestrian counts were down 90%. Over a year after the pandemic spread to the district, the group said the Golden Triangle has 122 vacant office and retail spaces. By fall, the spokesperson said the group hoped to get the area back on track to where it once was before businesses and workers left.
New Smyrna Beach: A man is facing animal cruelty and other charges after investigators said he attacked and seriously wounded a dog with a machete. An affidavit by a Volusia County sheriff’s deputy said Richard Nelson, 46, injured the dog during a confrontation earlier this month outside a New Smyrna Beach home. Nelson is also charged with falsely telling deputies he acted in self-defense when the dog attacked him first. Nelson was arrested Friday and released on his own recognizance the next day, court records showed. No attorney is listed to speak for Nelson, who authorities said has no fixed address. According to the affidavit, Nelson and the dog had issues in the past. Initially, Nelson told investigators the dog ran at him unprovoked and bit him, leading to his decision to use the machete. Video evidence, however, showed that Nelson stood up aggressively when the dog approached, striking the dog several times with the machete as he chased the animal around the yard, the affidavit said.
Warner Robins: A thriving Black community established in the 1940s for African American workers at Robins Air Force Base has been commemorated with a historic marker. The new plaque in Warner Robins – unveiled last month – celebrates the Jody Town Community, a segregated neighborhood that became a hub for Black life in the area before an urban renewal plan in the 1970s led to its destruction, The Telegraph newspaper reported. Johnson-Granville recalled going to an ice cream shop in the neighborhood and learning how to sew and bake cookies with her Girl Scout troop there. The Dodgers scouted players at a park where the Warner Robins Jets baseball team played, she said. But an urban renewal project in the 1970s supported by a federal grant displaced residents and brought down buildings. The neighborhood disappeared. Johnson-Granville called the marker “a symbol of what our ancestors did in the past.” The marker is the latest addition to the Georgia Civil Rights Trail, an initiative led by the Georgia Historical Society that aims to commemorate key events during the Civil Rights movement.
Wailuku: A federal judge ruled Maui County must get permits to operate injection wells that environmental groups said are polluting the ocean. Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit in 2012 over the injection wells, saying effluent from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility was entering the ocean and damaging coral reefs and sea life. The groups pointed to studies that traced the discharge from two wells to the ocean. In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sided with the environmental groups and ordered Maui County to “obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act consistent with the analysis established by the Supreme Court,” The Maui News reported. Maui county officials had refused to settle the case and brought it to the Supreme Court in 2019. The Supreme Court in April 2020 ruled that injection wells fall under the Clean Water Act. The county argued that treated wastewater from injection wells did not require permits under the Clean Water Act because the discharge did not go directly into the ocean.
Boise: Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy has asked a judge to throw out his conviction for trespassing at the Idaho Capitol and acquit him instead because he said the state’s trespassing law should not be applied to public property. Idaho’s courts, like many states, allow defendants to ask the judge for an acquittal within several days of a jury verdict. The move is seldom made, however, and rarely successful. It stems from Bundy’s arrest on Aug. 25, 2020, after he refused to leave an auditorium in the Statehouse after officials ordered it to be cleared. Officers also said he went limp and refused to stand up and put his hands behind his back. Officers ultimately wheeled him out of the Capitol building on a swivel chair. The arrest came during a special session of the Idaho Legislature that was called so lawmakers could address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Marion: Authorities in southern Illinois are investigating after skeletal remains were found at a wildlife refuge. The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office was working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois State Police and the county coroner. The remains were found Thursday at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, according to a news release. No further details were released. The roughly 44,000-acre refuge includes hardwood and pine forests, croplands, grasslands rolling hills and several lakes.
Charlestown:Hundreds of people turned out for an auction at a former Indiana wildlife center where the ex-proprietor and his ex-wife were found to have violated the Endangered Species Act by taking and wounding animals, including tigers and lions. A federal judge in June ordered Timothy Stark and his ex-wife, Melissa Lane, to pay more than $700,000 to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for attorney fees from the group’s successful lawsuit against the pair. Stark gained attention last year as one of the people in the Netflix true-crime series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” Along with volunteers, he operated the Wildlife in Need center in southern Indiana for more than 20 years. They showed off hundreds of exotic animals at the roadside center, charging admission of $25 or more. On Saturday, more than 7 acres of land, several buildings and a four-bedroom frame home were up for sale, the Indianapolis Star reported. Personal property including a Polar King walk-in freezer and refrigerator, trucks, trailers and ATVs also were auctioned.
Shenandoah: The Pella Windows & Doors company plans to shift more window production to its southwest Iowa factory and hire 120 additional workers in Shenandoah. Company officials said they plan to move production of their wooden double-hung windows to Shenandoah from a factory in Macomb, Illinois, according to The Des Moines Register. The Iowa Economic Development Authority agreed to give the company a forgivable $200,000 loan to help pay for the move. In return, the company said it plans to spend $5.6 million on equipment for the new lines, and the new jobs will pay at least $20.58 an hour, state officials said. The city of Shenandoah is also providing a $40,000 forgivable loan. Pella already employs about 300 people at the plant in Shenandoah. That will grow to more than 400 once the change is made.
Manhattan: Kansas State University will require that first-year students to live on campus starting in the fall of 2022. The university said in a news release the requirement aims to enhance student success. Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, said data showed the university’s first-year students who live on campus have higher grade-point averages, stay in school in higher numbers and graduate faster. The retention rate for freshmen who lived on campus in the fall of 2018 was 87.6%, compared to 79.9% for those who did not. For the fall of 2019, the university found that 5% more first-year students who lived on campus stayed in school than those who lived off campus. Kansas State will join all other institutions in the Kansas Regents system, with the exception of the University of Kansas, in requiring freshmen to live on campus. Students can apply for an exemption to the policy.
Cadiz: A riverboat stuck in Lake Barkley for more than a week was freed Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The American Jazz, with 120 passengers and 54 crew members, became stuck on a sandbar last week while on a seven-night cruise between Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, according to its operator, American Cruise Lines. The passengers were moved off the ship and transported to a Nashville hotel on July 9. The boat was not damaged. The boat was left in full reverse for about three hours Friday while a towing vessel pushed on it, and after taking a break, the boat worked itself free around 3:20 p.m., said Lt. Phillip Baxter of the Coast Guard in Paducah. The American Jazz’s hull was being inspected to make sure there was no damage or water going in before sending it on its way, Baxter said.
Baton Rouge: Bagpipes played as an honor guard carried the flag-draped casket bearing the body of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards down the steps of Louisiana’s towering state Capitol on Sunday and loaded it onto a horse-drawn carriage for transport to his funeral site. The four-term former governor died at his home in Gonzales on July 12 at age 93 after placing himself in hospice care following bouts with respiratory illness. His body lay in honor Saturday at the Capitol, where members of the public were allowed to file by. The Southern University marching band was part of a procession that carried the body from the 34-story Capitol built in the 1930s, on a nearly mile-long route to the Old State Capitol, a 19th Century structure, where a private funeral ceremony for Edwards was held. Among the speakers was current Gov. John Bel Edwards – no relation – who praised Edwards as a consensus builder and deal-maker who modernized state government and worked hard to fund education and the state’s charity hospital system.
Portland: The percentage of Maine teenagers and 12-year-olds who have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine has exceeded 50%. Maine has been ahead of most of the country in vaccinating residents against COVID-19. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that about 51% of the state’s 12- to 19-year-old residents have had at least one dose, and about 47% have had a final dose. The rollout of vaccines to teens and adolescents has been much slower nationwide. Only about 14% of the U.S. population that is under 18 has had a first dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Mayo Clinic. In Maine, the percentage of the total population that is under 20 and has had at least one dose is about 22%, the Maine CDC reported. That includes people too young to receive a vaccine. More than two-thirds of Maine’s population old enough to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has received a final dose. That is one of the highest percentages in the country.
Hagerstown:Point Broadband, an internet provider based in Georgia, is expanding its a fiber optic network to the Hagerstown area. The company, which acquired Hagerstown Fiber a little more than a year ago, will offer internet and telephone service for homes and businesses. Clint Wiley, general manager of Point Broadband in Maryland, said part of the work has already started. Wiley, who owned Hagerstown Fiber, said the company had started building a fiber optic network in the city before being acquired by Point Broadband. “That initial build was successful. … We’re obviously building from where we are in Hagerstown outwards,” he said, referring to a map of the planned coverage area, which stretches from the Pennsylvania state line south to Williamsport, and from just west of Hagerstown east to Smithsburg. It includes communities such as Maugansville, Halfway and Funkstown.
Boston: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is working with Boston and several other area communities to build nearly 5 miles of bus lanes and make other upgrades along crucial transit corridors, transportation officials said. The projects are designed to boost bus speed and reliability and in turn support economic growth as the region eases public health restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, the MBTA said in a statement. The work is also being done in Lynn, Brookline, Malden, Revere, and Somerville. “These quick-build projects aim to address transit delay on some of the region’s most congested roadways in order to improve bus travel time and reliability, and move more people more efficiently to support economic recovery and public health,” the T’s statement said.
Mackinaw City: A bomb scare closed the bridge connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas for about three hours on Sunday afternoon, authorities said. Law enforcement notified the Mackinac Bridge Authority of the threat and the bridge was closed in both directions at about 2:15 p.m., the authority said in a tweet. The Michigan State and Mackinaw City police investigated. Nothing was found after an “extensive search,” the authority said, and the bridge was reopened shortly after 5 p.m. The more than 26,300-foot structure is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
Ely: Superior National Forest officials said they are expanding their closure order for the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness north of Ely because of the threat of wildfires burning across the Canadian border. The newly expanded order, which took effect Sunday, includes 12 more BWCA entry points and the area around Lac la Croix, in addition to the areas around Crooked and Iron lakes that had been included. It now stretches east nearly to Basswood Lake, west nearly to Crane Lake, and south to the Echo Trail, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Authorities said wildfires burning unchecked just across the border in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park could cross into the BWCA. Forest Service officials said the new order is meant to give campers time to leave the area. The closure order will last at least seven days, or until the fire danger has subsided.
Tupelo: A lake named for the king of rock ‘n’ roll is closed for repairs and could reopen in the spring of 2024. Elvis Presley Lake has been drained and the entrance to it is locked, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported. Dennis Riecke, fisheries and environmental coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks, said plans include an inspection of the drain structure and installation of a rack to prevent logs from getting caught in the drain pipe. They also include the addition of fish attractors or brush piles in the shoreline areas and the addition of gravel beds to provide spawning sites for bass and bluegill. The state in recent years also temporarily closed Trace State Park Lake and Lake Lamar Bruce for improvements. Both are open again.
Fredericktown: A flash flood in rural eastern Missouri led to a water rescue of two people after their vehicle became stranded in fast-rising water. Heavy rain on Friday prompted a quick rise of the St. Francis River in Madison County. KFVS-TV reported that the water came up so quickly that both people were forced to stand on top of the vehicle to escape drowning. A Missouri State Highway Patrol marine operation trooper, R.A. Walker, and Madison County Emergency Management Director Dean Stevens were able to navigate the flooding waters and rescue the victims.
Billings: Extreme heat descended on parts of the U.S. northern Rocky Mountains on Monday, as authorities struggled to contain dozens of wildfires burning in a region parched by prolonged drought and blanketed with dangerous smoke. Record-setting temperatures were forecast for much of eastern Montana and portions of northern Wyoming. Billings, Montana’s largest city, was expected to hit 106 degrees Fahrenheit, topping a record set 61 years ago. Glasgow was forecast to reach 108. The heat will linger through Thursday, the National Weather Service said. Red flag warnings for high-fire risk were issued across almost all of Montana and Idaho and portions of northeastern and western Wyoming. More than two dozen new fires broke out across the three states Sunday, further straining firefighting resources stretched thin by a high number of early summer fires. Thunderstorms rolling through Monday night will bring winds that could fan wildfires and lightning that could spark new ones, according to the weather service.
Lincoln: City officials are defending their actions to remove a homeless encampment that had been set up in a wooded area. Officials said concerns from residents nearby prompted an investigation by Lincoln Fire and Rescue and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Jon Carlson, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, told the Lincoln Journal Star that conditions were found to be dangerous for those who were living there. Carlson said dead trees, dry brush, wood, grills, propane tanks and gas cans created a fire threat. Health officials also determined conditions were unsanitary. But some homeless advocates said it was unjust to demolish a community people made for themselves. About 20 people attended a protest and sought to raise donations to help those affected by the demolition.
Las Vegas: Some Las Vegas resorts and casinos are again requiring employees to wear masks, a response to a recommendation issued by regional health officials amid rising COVID-19 case rates. The Southern Nevada Health District on Friday recommended that all people, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated, wear face coverings in public settings such as stores, malls, casinos and events. The district’s recommendation isn’t a mandate but local media outlets reported that it prompted properties such as Westgate Las Vegas, The Venetian and Las Vegas Sands to impose masking requirements for employees. Some properties also posted the district’s recommendation at entrances and offered complimentary masks to visitors. Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said the district’s guidance was “ an important reminder that masks are effective in reducing spread.” Restrictions affecting casinos and other venues were lifted in May when the state fully returned pandemic control measures to counties.
Milford: Hitchiner Manufacturing has installed a 510-kilowatt solar array at one of its facilities in Milford. The array will produce more than 625,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy every year at a cost of less than $0.04 per kilowatt-hour, the company said in news release Friday. This will save Hitchiner more than $3.5 million over the array’s lifespan, and reduce Hitchiner’s carbon footprint by more than 665,000 pounds annually, the company said. One of the major hurdles in deciding to make the investment was the state’s high electrical costs, the company said. Hitchiner needs to “develop competitive and reliable sources of commercial energy so that businesses, and manufacturers in particular, can grow the state’s economy,” John Morison III, Hitchiner’s chairman and CEO, said. Hitchiner worked with ReVision Energy on the installation.
Springfield Township: A small tornado touched down in New Jersey over the weekend leaving behind a trail of damaged trees, the National Weather Service said. According to forecasters, a line of thunderstorms produced the EF-1 twister about a mile from the Burlington County Fairgrounds on Saturday night. It is estimated the tornado was packing winds of 80 to 90 mph. The tornado followed a narrow path of nearly 8 miles, damaging trees north of Columbus-Jobstown Road, snapping tree limbs on Island Road, uprooting a tree on Juliustown-Georgetown Road and causing additional scattered tree damage before the twister dissipated near the Ocean County border. No injuries were reported. The weather service determined a tornado was responsible after surveying the damage on Sunday.
Santa Fe: New Mexico plans to convert two privately run state prisons in rural areas into facilities operated by the Department of Corrections, the agency said. The department said Friday that it will take over operations of the Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Grants and the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa by November, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The facility in Grants is operated by CoreCivic, which is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and the facility in Santa Rosa is operated by Geo Group, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida.
New York City: Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does not plan to reinstate a city-wide mask mandate even as COVID-19 cases increase, opting instead to focus on vaccinating more residents. There have been calls for New York City to follow the lead of Los Angeles County, which announced last week that it will require masks be worn indoors amid a sharp increase in virus cases. But De Blasio insisted vaccinations are a better strategy for the nation’s most populous city. There are 4.8 million city residents with at least one vaccine dose, the mayor said. The daily number of COVID-19 cases in the city has increased since mid-June, though the caseloads are nowhere near the pandemic’s peak this past winter. The 628 confirmed and probable cases recorded citywide Thursday, the most recent day available, compares to 241 on July 1. The number of virus cases has been rising around the country, many of them the highly transmissible delta variant. City health officials said the variant makes up about 7 in 10 cases they sequence.
Asheboro: At the same time the North Carolina Zoo is seeing a huge increase in visitors compared with last year, it’s struggling to find staff to keep all of its exhibits open. “Like just about every other business out there, we’re having difficulty finding applicants,” Diane Villa, director of communications and marketing for the Asheboro zoo, told The Courier-Tribune. Most attractions are open, but certain features like an obstacle course and feeding activities have remained closed, the newspaper reported. Villa said 20 people recently turned out for a job fair with dozens of open positions. She said the zoo is partnering with other organizations that hold job fairs and is advertising locally to try to find applicants. Many of the jobs at the zoo are part time, temporary and pay about $10 to $12 per hour.
Towner: A California man rode his bicycle to North Dakota to celebrate his mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Brian Gonsalves, who lives in the San Diego area, isn’t new to long-distance bicycle rides. The X-ray technician rode to Georgia in 2018, a trip totalling 2,709 miles. As a survivor of a 2016 bicycle accident, he used that journey to celebrate his 50th birthday and raise money for Scripps trauma services. “I had a laparotomy, resection of my pancreas, and splenectomy that night,” Gonsalves said of the crash. “Two years later, my employer gave me time off to ride across America. I hope to encourage people to do what they love.” With his wife, Dorreen Drader-Gonsalves, providing his mobile support, he started the 2,143-mile trip from California on June 18 and made it to the International Peace Garden on July 11. From there, they drove the 65 miles to Towner for Beverly Lynch’s birthday party, the Minot Daily News reported. “It’s a beautiful country to ride across,” Gonsalves said. He said the minute he entered North Dakota the roads became “smooth as glass,” unlike some other areas.
Cincinnati: A dog that had been missing for five days is back home after it was found trapped between two concrete walls in a nearby home’s garage and freed by firefighters using a saw and sledgehammer. The homeowner called the Cincinnati Fire Department on Sunday after hearing the dog’s cries. Firefighters discovered Gertie had fallen down a crevice and was trapped between the walls. The dog had escaped from its home on July 13 and its owners had put up missing posters across the neighborhood. A video posted on Facebook showed firefighters using the tools to create an opening in the wall to pull Gertie to safety after about 10 minutes. The dog wagged its tail after being rescued. “It was just so sweet, just wagging that little nub tail, and she was just so, she was so excited,” Gertie’s owner, Connie Frick, told WXIX-TV.
Oklahoma City: Oklahoma reported more than 550 new coronavirus cases Monday as daily cases of the illness continued the upward trend they have charted over the past two weeks. The State Department of Health said the state recorded 557 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 466,733. The rolling average number of daily cases over the past two weeks has increased by 336, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Oklahoma has seen about 155 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, which ranks 11th in the country for per capita cases. According to Johns Hopkins, about 46.2% of Oklahomans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 39.5% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Salem:Oregon’s salmon license plate, first introduced in 1998, is getting an updated, more colorful look, available Sept. 1. Fans of classic salmon license plate who want it on their vehicle have until Aug. 31 to get to the Oregon DMV to register for one. The original plate, designed by Newport artist Herb Goblirsch, was first introduced by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Oregon Parks and Recreation department in 1998, becoming one of the state’s earliest custom plate designs. Revenue from the specialty plate has contributed more than $8 million into salmon recovery, helping protect and restore native salmon habitats, according to the release announcing the new design, The new design comes from Gretchen Kirchner, an amateur artist and former graphic designer for the watershed board. Kirchner drew inspiration from her 16 years in Oregon and the state’s beaches, forests, mountains and valleys and she worked with OWEB biologists to accurately represent the salmon’s details. More information about the new salmon license plate, auction rules and eligibility, is available at orsalmonplates.com. Registration fees and ordering information are available on the DMV website.
Harrisburg: Pennsylvania smashed its record for gambling revenue, state regulators said Monday, reporting nearly $3.9 billion in the last fiscal year as every category of wagering showed growth in one of the nation’s largest casino and gambling states. The rebound comes after pandemic-related shutdowns helped knock casino revenue down significantly. The nearly $3.9 billion from 14 operating casinos, fantasy sports operators and truck stops for the fiscal year ending June 30 beat the previous high, two years ago, by about 17% and last year’s take by more than 40%, according to figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Revenue in casinos from slot machines, at just below $1.9 billion, and from table games, at $721 million, remains lower than record highs in previous years. Online casino gambling grew to nearly $900 million in just its second year, and sports betting grew to $309 million in just its third year. Pennsylvania legalized both as part of an aggressive gambling expansion in 2017.
Jamestown:A Rhode Island man is planning a 19-mile swim from Block Island to Jamestown on July 31 to raise money for a nonprofit that works to keep oceans clean. Ben Tuff’s grueling swim will raise money for Clean Ocean Access. Just two years ago, he swam 23 miles around Conanicut Island to raise more than $54,000 for the organization, The Newport Daily News reported. Tuff is director of admission at Rumsey Hall School in Connecticut and a former triathlete who grew up in Jamestown. To keep safe, he will wear a shark-repellent device. About 6 feet long, the device will trail behind him. It can be a burden, but Tuff said it will provide peace of mind during a stretch of the swim when he won’t be able to see land. Two boats and a paddle boarder will trail him during the swim. He estimated the swim will take one to two hours more than his Jamestown around-the-island swim in 2019 that lasted 9 hours, 11 minutes, but much depends on currents.
Charleston: Starting on Oct. 1, 2024, nurseries in South Carolina will be prohibited from selling Bradford Pear and Callery pear trees, according to the Post and Courier. The trees are known for their early spring white flowers. But they also are known as one of the weakest structural trees in existence, with branches that commonly break after 10 to 15 years and a short life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. The ban affects the Bradford pear and any other tree grown from the Pyrus calleryana rootstock. State lawmakers and the state’s Crop Pest Commission approved the ban after an advisory panel added the tree to the State Plant Pest List. The Bradford pear was introduced to the United States in the 1950s. Although technically sterile, its fruit can cross pollinate with any other variety of pear tree and produce Callery pear trees, said David Coyle, assistant professor of Forest Health and Invasive Species at Clemson. He has started a program to encourage people to cut down and replace Bradford pears.
Watertown: The Department of Game, Fish and Parks is weighing how to proceed on beaver hunting in the Black Hills and the state. The idea for a hunting ban came up recently when the Game, Fish and Parks Commission discussed a proposal to create a year-round beaver hunting season across the state, with hunting only allowed in portions of the Black Hills not owned by the U.S. Forest Service from Nov. 1 to April 30. “By creating one statewide beaver season (with the exception of the Black Hills) that is year-round, it simplifies this regulation and allows landowners in eastern South Dakota the ability to remove beavers that are causing damage,” the proposal stated. Keith Fisk, the agency’s program administrator, said he receives at least 500 beaver complaints on an annual basis, the Black Hills Pioneer reported. “There are a number of landowners out there that would take advantage of this opportunity to remove some of those problem beavers whether it is them practicing that or someone they know willing to come and help them out,” Fisk said. But Commissioner Travis Bies said the Black Hills does not have problems with beavers, and the population has been greatly decreased. Bies called for a study of the beaver population, a suggestion that prompted the commission to table the proposal to its September meeting.
Nashville: Tennessee officials said state tax revenue continued to exceed projections in the latest monthly report. The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration said revenue for June were $1.9 billion, which is $372.3 million more than the budgeted monthly revenue estimate and $321.1 million more than June 2020. That represents a growth rate year-over-year of 20.9%. The revenue also represents a monthly growth rate of 18.6% compared to June 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The revenue reflects taxable sales activity from the month of May. On an accrual basis, June is the eleventh month in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Year-to-date revenues were $2.8 billion more than projections.
El Paso:A section of east El Paso received more than 3 inches of rain within an hour Sunday night, the National Weather Service said Monday. The largest amount of rain – 3.28 inches – was recorded in the Eastwood area along Montwood drives between McRae Boulevard and Yarbrough Drive, according to a NWS rain totals map. The next-largest rain totals were 2.46 inches near Vista Del Sol and Yarbrough Drive and 2.07 inches near the El Paso Community College Valle Verde campus. Other areas of El Paso received less than a half-inch to more than 1 inch of rain Sunday night as thunderstorms moved through the region. Flash flooding was reported in parts of El Paso, where 1 to 2 inches of rain had fallen earlier in the night. Drivers were cautioned not to enter flooded roads. There were reports of vehicles stuck and partially submerged in high water in several parts of the east side, including off Lee Treviño Drive and McRae Boulevard. There also was high water impacting traffic in the area of Interstate 10 and Piedras Street.
Springdale:Zion National Park has set a record for visitors in a month. National Park Service data showed the park saw nearly 676,000 visitors in June, topping the number during the same period in 2019 by a wide margin, the Spectrum newspaper reported. In June 2019, the park saw 595,000 visitors. The number dipped in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic to about 377,000 visitors. “We far surpassed our record,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh told the Springdale Town Council. Two other Utah parks, Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, saw their busiest June ever, with nearly 110,000 and 190,000 visitors respectively. Arches National Park temporarily delays entry almost daily now because of high visitation volumes but the official data hasn’t been released for June. Utah parks have seen visitation rise steadily over the past decade, with some parks seeing their average annual attendance nearly double.
Montpelier: Celebrations were held at Amtrak stations across Vermont on Monday to mark the return of passenger rail service to the state. The Vermonter train and the Ethan Allen Express resumed passenger service Monday. The service was suspended last year at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amtrak offered $1 fares at each Vermont station to include Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Windsor, White River Junction, Randolph, Montpelier, Waterbury, Essex Junction and St. Albans. The Vermonter train runs between New York City and St. Albans. The Ethan Allen Express runs between Rutland and New York. The southbound Vermonter was a few minutes late when it arrived in Montpelier on Monday. There were scores of people there waiting for it getting ice cream from a food truck and listening to a band that was set up under a tent.
Spotsylvania: A massive Virginia solar plant that drew a flood of opposition when it was first proposed is now more than half completed and sending electricity into the power grid. The first phases of the Spotsylvania Solar Center are generating 259 megawatts each day, providing power for some of the companies that bought the rights to the energy, the Free Lance-Star reported. Among them are Apple, Microsoft and the University of Richmond, which contracted to receive the electricity credits from the facility in rural western Spotsylvania County. The remaining portion of the solar facility should be online by the fall, Helen Humphries, a spokeswoman for AES Corp., told the newspaper. The plant is on track to become one of the largest in the U.S., with about 1.8 million panels generating 484 megawatts a day.
Kitsap:The Central Kitsap School District plans to start building a new facility on the campus of Olympic High School to replace Fairview Middle School in 2022. The district’s board members approved its Long-Range Facilities Plan, which includes the replacement of Fairview Middle School, in a board meeting last Wednesday. The long-term facilities plan provides a 40-year roadmap for the replacement and modernization of facilities in Central Kitsap, according to a document provided by the district. Having been meeting regularly with the district’s general contractor, Skanska, Central Kitsap School District will have some conceptual drawings of the new facility in August or September, Newell said in the board meeting. The new facility on the Olympic High campus will accommodate about 750 students, the same number of students which Fairview Middle School currently has, the district’s spokesperson, David Beil, said. The construction is estimated to cost $65 million, with $48.5 million coming from the federal government and $16.5 million from the state, according to a document provided by the district.
Huntington: Jean Dean, the first woman to serve as mayor of Huntington, has died. Dean died Saturday morning, her son Justin Gibson told the Herald-Dispatch. Her health had been deteriorating, he said. Dean served from 1993 to 2000. Before that, she was director of administration and finance, a position similar to a city manager. “She considered it a great honor to serve the people,” Gibson said. Current Mayor Steve Williams called Dean a “graceful giant.” Her vision, determination and graceful countenance set a foundation on which we continue to benefit, Williams said in a statement. Gibson said his mother was willing to work with representatives in Congress, local business leaders and residents to support the city. Funeral arrangements were pending Sunday.
Madison: Wisconsin’s two medical schools are collaborating on a study addressing health disparities in the state. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin will use $3 million in endowment money to measure and recommend solutions for health inequities, which have been underscored by the coronavirus pandemic. The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality is a consortium of state health systems and hospitals. The collaborative in 2020 found low rates of colon cancer screening and HPV vaccination in some rural areas and low rates of childhood vaccinations and depression screening in some urban neighborhoods. Blacks in Wisconsin have higher rates of cancer and sexually transmitted diseases than other groups, and poorer outcomes for stroke, diabetes and asthma, stemming in part from more poverty and less education, according to the state Department of Health Services, the State Journa l reported.
Jackson: Dusty Campbell completed a 285-mile rollerblade journey from Jackson to Salt Lake City on July 4 in just 47 hours and raised $15,200 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps veterans recover from mental and physical injuries. With those service members in mind, Campbell rollerbladed through two nights, resting only for three 30-minute naps. He was still on his wheels at 4:20 a.m. on July 4, with about 50 miles left to go. When he first set off from Town Square in Jackson, there wasn’t much fanfare. The stagecoach driver gave him a tip of the hat, and some tourists vaguely noted the size of his wheels. The symbolism of the location was noted, though, in Instagram live videos that showed the rollerblader in front of the veteran memorial in the center of the square. “In my mind there’s no greater cause,” Campbell said.