Corn on the curb, buttery cow, ‘Six Triple Eight’: News from around our 50 states

·43 min read


Romay Davis, 102, holds flowers after a ceremony honoring her service in World War II in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday. Davis is the oldest surviving member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which helped clear out a backlog of millions of letters and packages late in World War II in Europe.
Romay Davis, 102, holds flowers after a ceremony honoring her service in World War II in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday. Davis is the oldest surviving member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which helped clear out a backlog of millions of letters and packages late in World War II in Europe.

Montogmery: Romay Davis, 102, the oldest living member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the largest all-Black, all-female group to serve in World War II, was honored Tuesday at City Hall that followed President Joe Biden’s decision in March to sign a bill authorizing the Congressional Gold Medal for the unit, nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight.” More than 800 Black women formed the 6888th, which began sailing for England in February 1945. Once there, they were confronted not only by mountains of undelivered mail but by racism and sexism. They were denied entry into an American Red Cross club and hotels, according to the history, and a senior officer was threatened with being being replaced by a white first lieutenant when some unit members missed an inspection. Working under the motto of “No Mail, Low Morale,” the women served 24/7 in shifts and developed a new tracking system that processed about 65,000 items each shift, allowing them to clear a six-month backlog of mail in just three months. The medals themselves won’t be ready for months, but leaders decided to go ahead with events for Davis and five other surviving members of the 6888th given their advanced age.


Sitka: A male brown bear going through trash was killed by authorities in a city that experienced a record number of bear incidents last year. The weekend shooting of the bear by Sitka police was the first this year in the southeast Alaska city, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported. Last year, 14 bears were killed in and around Sitka, which the newspaper reported was a record for the community. Steve Bethune, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said four shots were fired, at least two of which hit the bear. Police received a call about a bear at about 11:40 p.m. Saturday. By the time Bethune arrived about 1 a.m. Sunday, officers had killed the animal, he said. Police later Sunday issued citations at three addresses for having bear attractants. Bethune estimated the bear was 8 to 12 years old and otherwise healthy.


Phoenix: The Arizona Supreme Court denied a request from the Cyber Ninjas, a company that oversaw a partisan Arizona election review, to reject a daily $50,000 penalty for refusing to hand over records related to the state Senate’s ballot review. The court also denied Cyber Ninjas’ request to find the records are not public documents. It was the second time they had made that request to the high court, and the second time the court rejected it this year. The court’s brief order means the fines continue, as the Ninjas’ owner have been slow to comply with a court order that its records related to last year’s ballot review are public documents. The court also denied a request from The Arizona Republic for attorney fees in its appeal to the high court. The decision does not affect a pending request for fees in the ongoing fight in the lower court. The Republic is suing Cyber Ninjas and its owners, Doug and Meghan Logan, arguing records the company has that are related to the state Senate-ordered ballot review of the 2020 Maricopa County election results are public records. The lawsuit also extends to the Senate, but it was not a party to the Supreme Court appeal.


Springdale: A fire at a northwestern Arkansas home killed six people, including four children, authorities said. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Monday the fire happened early Sunday at a trailer home in Springdale, about 145 miles northwest of Little Rock. Emergency responders received a call at about 2 a.m. about a fire and that people were still inside the home, the sheriff’s office said. One child was able to escape. Detectives are investigating the cause of the blaze. The victims’ bodies have been sent to the state crime lab to determine cause of death. The sheriff’s office did not release names or ages of the victims. Television station KNWA reported the Springdale School District said the victims included students enrolled in the district.


Sacramento: Tap water used by more than 900,000 Californians is unsafe to drink and the state isn’t acting fast enough to help clean it up, state auditors said in a report. Thousands of water systems supply the state’s 39 million people, and about 5% of them have some type of contaminant, such as nitrates or arsenic, in them, according to the audit. That means people can’t safely drink the water or use it to cook or bathe. Most of the 370 failing systems are in economically disadvantaged communities, many in the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland. The State Water Resources Control Board has provided at least $1.7 billion in grants since 2016 for design and construction to improve water systems. That could include building new treatment plants, consolidating water systems or other actions designed to improve water quality. But it took the board 33 months on average in 2021 for water system operators to complete the application process and receive money, the audit found – nearly double the time it took in 2017. The audit found a lack of clear metrics and poor communication created confusion for water districts seeking help and slowed down the award process. Eileen Sobeck, executive director for the water board, told state auditors the board agrees the process could be clearer and faster. But she disagreed with the conclusion the board hasn’t acted with urgency to improve contaminated water systems, saying the board’s “highest priority is advancing the human right to water.” California made a right to safe drinking water state law in 2013. The water board has previously said it would need $4.5 billion to address all the needs through 2025.


Denver: Two Republicans who suggested their losses in last month’s GOP primaries in Colorado might be the result of fraud filed their second round of requests for recounts Tuesday. Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and state Rep. Ron Hanks echoed former President Donald Trump’s claims about the 2020 election during their own races for their party’s nomination for Secretary of State and U.S. Senate, respectively. After they each lost by more than 40,000 votes, they requested a hand recount. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said their regulations required any recounts to be done by machine and that it would cost $236,000. When the candidates didn’t pay, it proceeded with certification of their losses.


Hartford: Max Reiss, the face of Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for the past three years, said he is leaving next month to take a new position in the private sector. Reiss, 36, will become a senior vice president at M&T Bank, which recently completed the acquisition of Connecticut-based People’s United Financial, Inc. and will now have a presence in 12 states. Lamont praised his departing communications director, a former TV reporter who previously covered the Democratic administration for WVIT-TV, for his dedication, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reiss managed much of the state’s public outreach efforts and became a familiar voice for residents who tuned in daily for Lamont’s pandemic news conferences. Reiss previously worked as a TV and radio reporter in Alabama, Missouri and elsewhere. His final day as Lamont’s chief spokesperson is Aug. 5.


Georgetown: The Town Council voted to give $24,750 to the Georgetown Historical Society, a nonprofit that allows a Confederate flag to be flown on its property. Councilwomen Angela Townsend made a motion to approve granting the funds, and the other council members all voted in favor of it. Mayor Bill West did not vote. Townsend’s motion stipulated “a committee would be formed to address the concerns,” but did not specify details. The Georgetown Historical Society’s Marvel Museum is home to numerous buildings, a collection of antique carriages and items related to Georgetown’s history. The grounds and buildings are often used for public and private events, as well. The Delaware Grays Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #2068 reached an agreement with the society in 2007, allowing them to install and maintain the flag and a monument to Delawareans who fought for the Confederacy. It was only 15 years ago, but it was a decidedly different time, one in which then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner celebrated the installation by declaring a statewide “Confederate History and Heritage Week.” By 2017, the Lower Sussex NAACP was calling for the removal of the flag. In 2019, the state declined to provide funding to the Georgetown Historical Society because of the flag.

District of Columbia

Washington: Police said they found a woman for which they were searching after confirming their investigation into an armed kidnapping in Northwest D.C. on Wednesday morning. Lt. McHauly Murphy with the MPD's Second District originally announced police were looking for 30-year-old Selita Lee. Police said they believe she was kidnapped by her boyfriend, Marquez "Mikko" Antonio Parker, 44, for whom they are still searching.  Parker is described by police as about 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, light blue pants and white shoes. Police said he was carrying a black satchel and is armed with a black handgun. Anyone with information about this case should contact police by dialing 911, texting the department's tip line at 50411 or calling (202) 727-9099.


Orlando: The state’s population grew slightly over a previous forecast in the first quarter of this year, but slowing growth with deaths outpacing births is still in the Sunshine State’s future over the next decade, according to estimates released last week. The estimates released by the state Demographic Estimating Conference showed that Florida’s population growth appears to have peaked last year with a 1.6% rate. Florida’s population in 2022 will stand at more than 22 million residents, trailing only California and Texas in size. The April 1 estimate was 3,795 residents higher than a forecast in December, reflecting an increase in migration. Although Florida will continue to grow over the next decade and beyond, with its population reaching just short of 25 million residents by 2032, it’s pace of growth will slow to 0.8% in 10 years and 0.6% by 2039, according to the estimates.


Reidsville: A judge has been arrested on charges he threatened a man who confronted the jurist about taking vegetables from his garden. Tattnall County Chief Magistrate Judge Eddie Anderson, 70, was charged Monday with felony counts of making a terrorist threat and violating his oath of office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a news release. He was booked at the county jail and released on his own recognizance. The GBI said a man reported to the county sheriff he believed the judge had come onto his property and taken vegetables without permission. The man told authorities Anderson threatened him with violence when confronted during a phone call. Witnesses overheard the judge making the threat, the GBI said. Anderson did not immediately respond to an a phone message left at his office or an email seeking comment Tuesday.


Honolulu: A man accused of using counterfeit bank checks totaling $1.2 million to bail three people out of a jail has been arrested and ordered held without bail, according to court records. Samuela Tuikolongahau Jr. was detained by federal authorities on Monday. A U.S. Secret Service affidavit filed in court alleged he presented the bank checks for $760,000, $400,000 and $50,000 in 2020 during the attempt to post bail for three people held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. He left a Honolulu courthouse after being told the checks would need verification, the court document said. Officials determined the checks were counterfeit and the two men and woman he tried to get out of jail were not released. Court documents did not specify his relationship to the three jailed people. Tuikolongahau appeared in federal court Tuesday for a hearing, where a judge appointed defense attorney Walter Rodby to represent him. Tuikolongahau consented to be detained without bail as prosecutors requested, according to court records. Rodby did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment.


Boise: More than 800 wildland firefighters and support staff are fighting a blaze in east-central Idaho that officials said is threatening homes, an important north-south corridor, energy infrastructure, recreation opportunities and the municipal watershed for the town of Salmon. The Moose Fire on Tuesday grew to nearly 60 square miles burning grass, timber understory and dead and down material in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. It’s only 10% contained. Firefighters are protecting structures in several areas, as well as the U.S. Highway 93 corridor, a major north-south route. Two helicopter pilots fighting the fire died last week when their CH-47D Series “Chinook” crashed in the Salmon River. Plans call for removing the helicopter from the river with a large crane. The cause of the fire that started July 17 is unknown. High temperatures and dry relative humidity are hampering efforts to control the blaze. Smoke has also been a problem.


Northbrook: A coyote on public display in suburban Chicago will get a larger den but not a transfer to a wild animal sanctuary in Colorado. A report for the Cook County Forest Preserve District said the coyote, named Rocky, is “happy and healthy” in his 266-square-foot home but will get more room. Critics, however, said his constant pacing is proof that he’s bored. “You put an animal in a cage they’re not happy,” said Jodie Wiederkehr, director of the Chicago Alliance for Animals. Rocky has been at the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook since 2018, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He was found as a pup in Tennessee. An expanded habitat is in the works at the nature center. A petition to relocate the coyote to a wild animal sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, has more than 6,000 signatures. “Because the coyote is an imprinted animal that has lived with humans practically since birth, there is no guarantee it will thrive if moved across the country and introduced to other coyotes,” Forest Preserve officials said.


Indianapolis: Republican lawmakers on Tuesday narrowly advanced a plan to ban nearly all abortions in the state, despite opposition from abortion-rights supporters, who said the bill goes too far, and anti-abortion activists, who said it doesn’t go far enough. Indiana has one of the first Republican-run state Legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court formally issued its judgment Tuesday in the June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling — a step that allows some state trigger laws to ban abortion to take effect. In Indiana, chants from anti-abortion activists, such as “Let their heart beat,” could be heard inside the Senate chamber as a committee wrapped up two days of testimony during which none of the more than 60 people speaking voiced support for the Republican-sponsored bill. The committee voted 7-5 in favor of the ban after also adding provisions under which doctors could face felony criminal charges and up to six years in prison for performing an illegal abortion. That’s the same potential penalty for performing abortions under Indiana’s current 20-week ban. More amendments to the bill could be debated by the full Senate on Thursday.


Des Moines: The butter cow at the Iowa State Fair, which runs Aug. 11-21, will be showcased with a companion piece – a tribute to “The Music Man,” the Broadway musical written by Mason City native Meredith Willson in 1957. The musical based on the fictional town of River City, Iowa, celebrates its 60th year in film with a Broadway reboot that stars Hugh Jackman, who plays traveling salesman Harold Hill trying to sell a town of Iowans musical instruments and uniforms to start a band. Officials promised at least one of the 76 trombones from the musical’s centerpiece song to make an appearance. The 600-pound butter cow will have another companion piece, a relief that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Ye Old Mill. The 1,500-foot canal ride was first constructed in 1921. Couples like to float on the boats and many a couple shared a first kiss or proposed on the ride. In 1996, a strong wind blew down the mill, but a $100,000 gift from Boatmen’s Bank of Iowa helped the ride return for the State Fair that year. The butter cow became a regular fixture at the State Fair in 1911. The fair added a companion sculpture in 1996 that featured Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” Through the years, sculptures of Harry Potter, Garth Brooks, the 25th anniversary of “Field of Dreams,” Superman and gymnast Shawn Johnson were featured.


Topeka: Early voting is surging in Kansas ahead of next week’s statewide abortion vote. More than 2½ times as many people cast early ballots as of Tuesday compared to the same point in the 2018 midterm primary, the Kansas secretary of state’s office reported. Voters will decide Tuesday whether to amend the state Constitution to allow the Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. The Kansas vote is the first statewide referendum on abortion policy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. The Republican-controlled Legislature put the anti-abortion measure on the ballot to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court decision declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution. The measure would add language saying the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion, allowing lawmakers to regulate it as they see fit.


Frankfort: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has awarded a license for a new facility with plans to offer quarter horse racing in the state. Revolutionary Racing will build in Ashland and feature an American quarter horse “sprint racing” track and a historical horse racing facility, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration said Tuesday. Historical racing machines allow people to bet on randomly generated horse races from the past. The games typically show video of condensed horse races. Revolutionary Racing obtained the last available racing license in Kentucky, according to state officials. The project invests $55 million and creates 200 jobs, Beshear said. The construction project is expected to be completed in 2024.


New Orleans: Jury deliberations resumed Wednesday in the federal trial of New Orleans district attorney Jason Williams, who was elected to be the city’s top prosecutor in December 2020 despite having been indicted months earlier on tax charges. Williams and Nicole Burdett, who was an attorney in his law practice, were accused in an indictment of conspiring to cheat on Williams’ taxes during a five-year period ending in 2017. Prosecutors said Williams’ tax burden was illegally cut by $200,000. Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday morning, a week after the trial began. Prosecution witnesses included the tax preparer, Henry Timothy, who was cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty to a single tax charge. The defense rested Tuesday morning as well, without calling witnesses. Williams has long contended the prosecution was politically motivated. Defense attorneys have portrayed Timothy as a fraud while attacking his credibility, and questioned why others whose taxes were prepared by Timothy weren’t criminally prosecuted.


Augusta: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills increased her fundraising advantage over Republican challenger Paul LePage in the latest reporting period, hauling in $605,000 during the 42-day period, according to documents filed Tuesday. The report that covers the period from June 1 to July 19 lifted Mills’ fundraising haul to $3.8 million, with $2.7 million in cash on hand, according to the campaign disclosure reports. LePage, a former two-term governor, raised about $312,000 for the same period, bringing his total to nearly $1.8 million, the reports said. The race is one of several gubernatorial contests that will be on the national radar during the 2022 midterm elections. LePage is seeking to become the first governor to serve three, four-year terms. LePage served consecutive terms, but Maine allows a former governor to serve again after sitting out an election.


Hagerstown: The Washington County Democratic Central Committee is expected to open its headquarters in downtown Hagerstown. An orientation was held Saturday by the county Democratic Central Committee, where volunteers received information on how to educate, support and encourage people to vote for Democratic candidates during the general election Nov. 8.


Boston: Legislation to ban discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles – such as Afros, cornrows or tightly coiled twists – in workplaces, school districts and school-related organizations in Massachusetts was signed into law Tuesday by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Black women in particular have faced pressure in school and on the job to alter their hair to conform to policies that are biased against natural hairstyles, according to supporters of the law. The bill had been unanimously approved by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate. The new law defines natural and protective hairstyles as including “braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots and other formations,” and tasks the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination with enforcing the protections. Policies that limit or prohibit natural hairstyles in all school districts are now banned. The law also prohibits hair discrimination in employment, business, advertising and public spaces. Massachusetts is the 18th state to adopt a version of the the bill – known as the Crown Act – into law, legislators said.


Detroit: Thousands who were wrongly accused of fraud when seeking unemployment benefits can seek financial relief from the state, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, breaking new ground when someone claims their constitutional rights have been violated by the government. “The state is prohibited from violating the rights the Constitution guarantees. If it does so, it is liable for the harm it causes,” Justice Megan Cavanagh wrote in a 4-3 opinion.


Duluth: The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has voted to remove a decades-old requirement that members have a minimum of 25% Chippewa blood. Officials said 65% of voters on an advisory referendum said the blood quantum requirement should be removed from membership in the six-reservation tribe. The referendum is a guide for tribal leaders who will now decide whether to ask voters to amend the tribe’s constitution. The majority of voters said each reservation – Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Bois Forte, Grand Portage, White Earth and Leech Lake – should be allowed to determine its own enrollment requirements, the Star Tribune reported. The blood quantum requirement has caused the tribe’s enrollment to shrink, with many children not considered members despite having a parent who is. About 15% of the tribe’s roughly 39,000 citizens are under age 18.


Jackson: The city is moving forward with creating an office for violence prevention and trauma recovery that was announced in early May, said Safiya R. Omari, the city’s chief of staff. The National League of Cities and Wells Fargo Bank awarded the city a $700,000 grant in May to create the office. In addition, the city will hire an executive director and policy analyst with public safety experience, while seeking additional funds for the prevention office, Omari said. “Students from local colleges will have the opportunity to serve as interns to broaden the community-based interventions towards violence prevention,” Omari said.


Springfield: Federal investigators said a Springfield man robbed a bank last week after writing a demand note in pink highlighter on the back of his birth certificate and handing it to the teller. On July 20, at about 11:30 a.m., court documents showed a 29-year-old man wearing a cut-off gray T-shirt, blue gym shorts and one orange shoe, entered the Bank of America on West Kearney Street and handed a teller a note reading “Give me your money now. Don’t say anything. I have a partner outside.” The teller emptied the cash drawer and handed the man the money and the note, at which time the man left and fled the scene in a black pickup truck, according to court documents. The man was arrested later that day because of a tip. The man allegedly confessed to the crime and told investigators he robbed the bank to “prove a point” to his girlfriend after they got into an argument. He told investigators that he didn’t know which bank he was going to rob, but drove by the Bank of America and decided it would be that one. According to court documents, the man told law enforcement he wrote the note on the back of his birth certificate in pink highlighter and after fleeing the scene, he threw his birth certificate and ID out the car window. The man is charged with one count of bank robbery, a federal crime that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.


West Glacier: A 79-year-old Florida man died in a fall in Glacier National Park while he was trying to scramble up an off-trail slope with a group of friends, park officials said Tuesday. The incident happened Monday morning on Rising Wolf Mountain, several hundred feet above the Two Medicine Campground in the southeastern part of the park, spokesperson Gina Kerzman said. The friends descended to the victim’s location, yelled to the campground for help and called 911. National Park Service staff responded. A search helicopter operated by Two Bear Air, which had been working to recover the bodies of two men who died in a climbing accident several days earlier, was temporarily diverted to help with the rescue. The helicopter transported the unconscious man to the Two Medicine Ranger Station, where an air ambulance was waiting. The air ambulance crew declared the man dead, authorities said. The man’s name and hometown were being withheld until family members could be notified. The bodies of the two 67-year-old Montana men who died in a fall on Dusty Star Mountain in the park’s interior were also recovered Monday, Kerzman said. Brian McKenzie Kennedy of Columbia Falls and Jack Dewayne Beard of Kalispell were expert climbers who had been summitting mountain peaks in Glacier park for decades, park officials said in releasing their names Tuesday. Both were members of the Glacier Mountaineering Society, the park said in a statement. The men set out for a climb on July 22 and were to return the next day. They were reported missing July 24 and their bodies were spotted from a search helicopter Monday morning.


Lincoln: President Joe Biden approved a request for a federal disaster declaration for a portion of Nebraska that suffered damage from severe storms and straight-line winds in May. The designation allows state, local and tribal governments and some private nonprofit organizations to access federal funding on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and for the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. The declaration covers 20 counties from central to northeastern Nebraska. The counties included in the declaration are Antelope, Boone, Burt, Cedar, Cuming, Custer, Dixon, Garfield, Greeley, Holt, Knox, Logan, Pierce, Polk, Sherman, Thurston, Valley, Wayne, Wheeler, and York. A line of severe storms that moved through the eastern half of the state on May 12 generated straight-line winds of up to 100 mph in some places, the National Weather Services reported, downing power lines, poles and trees and damaging buildings.


Las Vegas: Another body has surfaced at Lake Mead – this time in a swimming area where water levels have dropped as the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam recedes because of drought. The National Park Service did not say in a statement how long officials believe the corpse was submerged in the Boulder Beach area before it was found Monday by people who summoned park rangers. Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse said Tuesday it was partially encased in mud at the water line of the swimming area along the shore north of Hemenway Harbor marina. The gender of the dead person was not immediately apparent, Rouse said, and it was too early to tell a time, cause and manner of death. Investigators will review missing persons records as part of the effort, Rouse said. The corpse was the third found since May as the shoreline retreats at the shrinking reservoir between Nevada and Arizona east of Las Vegas. The lake surface has dropped more than 170 feet since the reservoir was full in 1983. It is now about 30% full. The coroner said her office was continuing work to identify a man whose body was found May 1 in a rusted barrel in the Hemenway Harbor area and a man whose bones were found May 7 in a newly surfaced sand bar near Callville Bay, more than 9 miles from the marina. On July 6, the body of a 22-year-old Boulder City woman was found in the water near where she disappeared while riding a personal watercraft. Rouse said it might take several weeks to determine her cause of death. The case of the body in the barrel was being investigated as a homicide after police said the man had been shot and his clothing dated to the mid-1970s to early 1980s.

New Hampshire

Henniker: The state Executive Council – which approves nominations and state contracts – voted 4-1 to deny funding to the Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The contracts, which were supported by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, would have funded cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and other routine health care services for more than 16,000 low-income women. The outcome was the same when the council voted in September, December and January. Wednesday was the first vote since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion. Republican councilors previously raised concerns that public money would pay for abortions and continued to vote no even after audit reports confirmed that funds were not commingled.

New Jersey

Trenton: Hospitalized patients in New Jersey who have tested positive for the coronavirus have surpassed 1,000 again for the first time since February and most of the state is back to seeing high rates of transmission as a new mutation continues to spread quickly, data from the state Department of Health shows. But administrators at some of the state’s largest hospital networks said most patients have relatively mild symptoms and are being sent home with medication. The latest surge is being driven by the omicron BA.5 subvariant, which makes up about 82% of all positive cases in New Jersey and New York – up from 64% less than two weeks ago.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: Gun-safety advocates said police, prosecutors and judges are still learning how to harness a 2020 red-flag law that can be used to seize guns from people who pose a danger to others or themselves. Shiela Lewis offers training to police, prosecutors and school administrators on how to petition a judge for a red-flag order to temporarily seize guns for a one-year period that can be extended. She told a panel of state legislators Tuesday that an incomplete understanding of the current law is limiting its use as a precaution against gun violence. Just nine petitions have been filed to have guns removed since New Mexico’s red-flag law went into effect in May 2020. The state Department of Health said it plans to begin soliciting grants aimed at preventing gun violence, starting in August.

New York

New York: A jury was asked Tuesday to consider whether a neurologist used his thriving pain-management practice to sexually prey on six patients or if he is a victim of accusers with false stories. The case against Dr. Ricardo Cruciani relied on “survivor stories of six very different women,” assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey said in closing arguments at Cruciani’s trial. “This is a trial about a doctor who raped, sodomized, hugged and manipulated his patients,” Lucey said. The prosecutor argued the evidence showed Cruciani groomed patients by overprescribing pain killers, sometimes to treat serious injuries from car wrecks and other accidents. The accusers testified the sexual abuse often occurred behind closed doors during appointments in 2013 at a Manhattan medical center, where the doctor would expose himself and demand sex. Defense attorney Fred Sosinsky countered by arguing the witnesses were unreliable, telling jurors, “You should have every reason to doubt these accusations.” He added that the witnesses “were willing to lie” and “dispute the indisputable.” Cruciani, 68, has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including rape, sexual abuse and predatory sexual assault. The jury worked for about an hour late Tuesday without reaching a verdict. It was to resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

North Carolina

Charlotte: Mayor Vi Lyles won a third term Tuesday as the Democrat defeated Republican rival Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao by a more than 2-to-1 margin, according to unofficial results. In Greensboro, the state’s third-largest city, Mayor Nancy Vaughan led challenger Justin Outling by more than 400 votes in the officially nonpartisan race. The News & Record of Greensboro reported that Outling, a city councilmember, declined to concede late Tuesday, saying he wanted to wait for other votes to be counted. There are an unknown number of provisional and mail-in absentee ballots outstanding. About 15% of the mayoral votes counted by Tuesday were for write-in candidates. Meanwhile, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker lost handily to former deputy Willie Rowe in a runoff for the Democratic nomination. Rowe will now take on Republican Donnie Harrison – a former sheriff – in the November election.

North Dakota

Fargo: The state’s only abortion clinic was preparing for what could be its final day of performing procedures, with a trigger ban set to take effect Thursday that will likely force patients to travel hundreds of miles to receive care pending the clinic’s relocation across the border to Minnesota. Barring a judge’s intervention, the Red River Women’s Clinic will provide abortion services Wednesday and then shut down. Owner Tammi Kromenaker is building a clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota, with the aid of nearly $1 million raised through GoFundMe. Kromenaker has not said when the new clinic will open and she did not respond to messages Tuesday. Planned Parenthood has said it can perform abortions at its own Moorhead facility to fill the gap if needed, but it is not known if that will happen. Once North Dakota’s ban takes effect, the nearest abortion clinics will be in Minneapolis and Duluth, a drive of about 4 hours from Fargo, and in Billings, Montana, which is nearly 4 hours from North Dakota’s western border.


Cincinnati: An Ohio man who admitted threatening a witness after posting videos from the U.S. Capitol riots was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation. Justin Stoll of Wilmington pleaded guilty in January in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to transmitting a threat to injure. Authorities alleged Stoll breached the security barricades at the Capitol but did not enter the building on Jan. 6, 2021. According to court documents, Stoll attended the rally and went with other rioters past police barricades that had been torn down. He recorded videos showing this and posted them online. When one online viewer said they saved his video, Stoll warned if the viewer took action to “ever jeopardize me, from being with my family,” then the person would meet his or her “maker,” and that he would be the one to “arrange the meeting.”


Oklahoma City: Crews are expected to break ground this fall for a new fairgrounds coliseum to replace “The Big House,” which opened in 1965 and helped the OKC Fairgrounds become known as “The Horse Show Capital of the World.” The new coliseum will be constructed for just over $102 million. Rising construction costs and inflation made the price tag much more than when a City Council memo in November 2020 estimated the cost at $73 million. Although a small portion of the Jim Norick arena will be demolished to make room for the coliseum, the arena will be fully operational during all phases of construction, fairgrounds spokesman Scott Munz said. The current fairgrounds arena has the largest economic impact of all publicly owned facilities in Oklahoma City, holding more than 250 event days a year, including international equine and livestock shows, concerts, sporting events and ice shows.


Salem: A man who reportedly ignited wildfires in a remote, forested corner of Oregon was apprehended by three local residents and tied to a tree until police arrived, a sheriff said Tuesday. Federal, state and county authorities responded to a radio call Monday from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee who reported a man was walking along a gravel road and setting fires in a forest about 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. Ground crews, assisted by local residents, and three helicopters quickly got the two fires under control, Curry County Sheriff John Ward said. Meanwhile, three local residents located the suspect walking on the road near the fires and detained him. After being treated at a hospital for his injuries, Trennon Smith, 30, of Veneta, Oregon, was being held on Tuesday in the Curry County jail on charges of arson and reckless burning, Ward said. Court documents did not say if he has an attorney. Bond was set at $100,000.


Harrisburg: A decision about whether the method of funding public education meets a state constitutional requirement was left in the hands of a state judge Tuesday when argument wrapped up in the long-running case. Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer did not indicate when she will rule but said attorneys left her with a massive record to review. The case could result in substantial changes, as the plaintiffs are challenging whether the amounts and method of distribution of the annual education subsidies issued by the General Assembly comport with the state Constitution. The defendants, Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, argued funding has been growing and is adequate. State education funding was boosted in the budget that passed earlier this month and has increased by billions of dollars during Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s nearly eight years in office.

Rhode Island

Providence: Mayor Jorge Elorza said there would be no infringement of civil liberties with the deployment of the city’s license plate reading cameras despite concerns over a lack of public input. Although the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the cameras, designed by Atlanta company Flock Safety, and opposes the expansion of surveillance efforts, Elorza said “concerns about civil liberties being compromised will not materialize.” “I just urge everybody to have an open mind,” said City Council President John Igliozzi, who contended the cameras are essential to creating “a safe and secure environment to live in.” Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said the cameras likely will be activated within the next 30 days. Paré said the policy governing the use of the cameras, which was distributed to reporters, was crafted over the course of 60 days. Flock is giving Providence 25 cameras at no cost for a one-year trial. The program did not receive any approval from the City Council, apparently because it did not need to be factored into the city’s budget.

South Carolina

Columbia: Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette made history on Wednesday as the first gubernatorial ticket to file for reelection in South Carolina. This fall is only the second time voters will elect a governor and lieutenant governor together. Before 2018, lieutenant governors were elected separately. “We’ve had great success in the last four years,” McMaster told reporters after Evette signed her campaign paperwork. “She is fully conversant with the trials, tribulations and challenges of business. … I think that we offer a good, strong team that’s fully committed to the great people of South Carolina.” In 2018, as he sought his first full term, McMaster became the first governor to run on the same ticket as his pick for lieutenant governor. At the time, Evette was a political newcomer, a Greenville businesswoman McMaster said he picked in part because of her “fresh eyes” when it came to governing, as well as her relationships with the business community. Over the past four years, Evette has spent many months traveling the state, meeting with companies and businesses, as well as promoting relationships between South Carolina’s technical training schools, the strength of which both she and the governor have argued is key to the state’s growing manufacturing economy. In November, McMaster will face Democrat Joe Cunningham, a former one-term congressman. Cunningham has said he will announce his pick for a running mate next week. No Democrat has captured South Carolina’s top job in 20 years, and Republicans have held all statewide-elected offices for more than a decade.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: A stalk of corn is growing in front of a home – in the concrete – at the 5700 block of W. Silver Valley Drive near Dunham Park on the city’s west side. It’s the second report of corn growing in unexpected places this week after a corn plant was found by a golfer at the Elmwood Gold Course on Monday in a sand bunker. Both plants were photographed and shared by separate people on the Sioux Falls Reddit page to the delight of others ready to relive what some consider the most positive story of 2020 in the city. In 2020, the 57th Street Corn became the talk of the town, inspiring T-shirts, memes and photos from fans across the region. The corn was later found pulled from the ground near the intersection at 57th Street and Minnesota Avenue. The Silver Valley Drive Corn is still a young plant, but Ldyia Smith, the owner of the house in front of the plant, said it’s in good hands. “I said that we could start serving street corn once it started growing,” Smith said.


Memphis: A Black repertory theater said it plans to open a tuition-free school for at-risk students and other groups in a historic church that will be renovated after falling into disrepair. Hattiloo Theatre said the new program is expected to begin in late 2023. Students will be accepted based on auditions, and two-thirds of admissions will be reserved for low-income and marginalized students, the theater said Tuesday. Hattiloo Theater School will hold free audition workshops in at-risk neighborhoods. Programs will include youth courses based on experience level and age, a diverse abilities course and a senior citizen course, the theater said. The school will be housed in the Third Presbyterian Church, built in 1860. A community redevelopment agency plans to fund renovations. The church served as a hospital for federal Civil War troops, and it has changed names and congregations over the years, the theater said.


El Paso: The building housing one of the city’s oldest grocery stores will be remade into medical offices anchored by El Paso Children’s Hospital doctors’ offices and possibly a clinic. The Food City building at 5400 Alameda Ave. was sold June 30 by the grocery store owners to an El Paso developer for an undisclosed amount. The 50-year-old store is expected to close about Aug 10, a Food City official said. The building and the 5 acres it stands on are valued for tax purposes at $3.7 million by the El Paso Central Appraisal District. Food City officials notified the Texas Workforce Commission that it would lay off 90 people by Sept. 3. However, that number is now about 55 because some employees were placed at Food City’s two other El Paso stores, Carlos Loweree, Food City vice president, said Tuesday. El Paso Children’s Hospital officials in a statement said the hospital is leasing a portion of the Food City building because it needs more office space for doctors as it continues to employ more physician specialists.


Salt Lake City: Miniature bottles of alcohol could return to liquor stores in deeply religious Utah by the fall after the state agency that oversees alcohol approved a rule change Tuesday. Members of the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services Commission voted unanimously to allow spirits to be sold in sizes slightly larger than the average shot or glass of wine, Fox 13 reported. The commission plans to open the proposed rule change to public comment and, barring concerns, could institute it by the fall. A decadeslong prohibition on miniature alcohol bottles is one of many unique liquor laws in Utah, where a majority of the population are members of the alcohol-eschewing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church officials have said the state’s laws are reasonable and effectively curtail excessive drinking and DUIs while still allowing people to drink responsibly. As Utah draws an increasing number of tourists and residents who aren’t members of the church, new tensions have arisen over the state’s liquor laws and concerns have grown over whether they entrench the state’s reputation as a religiously conservative place intolerant of those who drink alcohol. Alcohol regulators said the push bring back mini-bottles came from businesses in tourist-reliant parts of the state.


Burlington: The Shelburne Street roundabout will soon be completely open to traffic after a year of construction, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Although the $10 million project won't officially be done until next spring, the roundabout will be fully functional in late summer or early, fall said project manager Mike LaCroix via email. Planners hope the roundabout will lead to a safer situation for motorists and pedestrians as the former maze of merging lanes contributed to many serious accidents. The roundabout will be located at the intersection of Shelburne Road, South Willard Street, Ledge Road and Locust Street in the south end. Workers are now installing streetlights, curbing, splitter islands and sidewalks, as well as paving the shared-use paths and roadway, applying temporary line striping and making landscaping enhancements. This work will continue for the next few months.


Danville: A Virginia company and its owner have agreed to pay $310,000 to resolve allegations they violated federal and state law by submitting false bills to Medicare and Medicaid, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Jacob Patterson, 66 of Danville was a pharmacist who owned and operated Piedmont Infusion Services. The company employed nurses and nursing assistants to provide patients with compounded ,prescriptions as well as needle and catheter method medications ordered by their physicians, the department’s news release said. Piedmont Infusion Services did not employ a physician or “physician extender” such as a physician’s assistant to provide patient care. From 2013 through the beginning of 2018, Patterson and Piedmont Infusion Services falsely billed Medicare and Medicaid for high-level office visits that didn’t occur, a news release said. In addition, Patterson and Piedmont Infusion Services also fraudulently double-billed Medicare Part B for medications already billed to Medicare Part D. Prosecutors said a former employee of Piedmont Infusion Services came forward as a whistleblower and helped the government in its investigation.


Seattle: The Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society said it is dropping “Audubon” from its name because the man the organization is named after was a slave owner and opposed abolition. KNKX reported Seattle Audubon is one the largest chapters of the National Audubon Society, the nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats. Earlier this month, the board voted to change the chapter’s name because the man the organization is named after – illustrator, painter and bird lover John James Audubon, author of the seminal work “The Birds of America” – owned enslaved people. J. Drew Lanham, a former board member of the National Audubon Society and a wildlife ecology professor at Clemson University, called the move courageous. Lanham, who has written about Audubon and left the national chapter over concerns the nonprofit was not doing enough about racial equity, said organizations need to grapple with what to do about problematic monuments. Last year, the Audubon Naturalist Society, a Washington-based environmental organization, said it would remove “Audubon” from its name, but it is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society. Seattle Audubon said it plans to choose a new name by the end of the year.

West Virginia

Charleston: West Virginia corrections commissioner Betsy Jividen is resigning, Gov. Jim Justice said. Jividen’s resignation is effective Aug. 5. Justice said Tuesday he will begin the process of filling the vacancy. Jividen was appointed to lead the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2018. She served as an acting and interim U.S. attorney for the state’s northern district. Her work as an assistant federal prosecutor dates to 1980. The corrections division operates 15 prisons, work-release centers and related facilities. It has more than 2,000 employees.


Madison: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels said during a debate he can be taken at his word that he won’t raise gas taxes. Primary challenger Rebecca Kleefisch accused him of not taking responsibility for previously being in leadership roles for groups that backed increasing gas taxes. Kleefisch, Michels and state Rep. Tim Ramthun debated on the radio three days after a television debate and less than two weeks before the Aug. 9 primary. The winner will advance to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November. Michels, who is endorsed by Donald Trump and co-owns the state’s largest construction company, Michels Corp., said he “never once” said he wanted to raise the gas tax. He said the groups he was on that lobbied for raising the gas tax, including the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, came to a consensus on issues and he didn’t always agree. Kleefisch and former Gov. Scott Walker have attacked Michels over the gas tax issue.


Dr. Giovannina Anthony of the Women’s Health Center and Family Care Clinic reacts after a judge in Ninth District Court in Jackson temporarily blocked Wyoming's abortion law from taking effect.
Dr. Giovannina Anthony of the Women’s Health Center and Family Care Clinic reacts after a judge in Ninth District Court in Jackson temporarily blocked Wyoming's abortion law from taking effect.

Cheyenne: A judge temporarily blocked the state’s abortion ban on the day it took effect, siding with a women’s health clinic and others who argued the ban would harm health care workers and their patients and violate the state constitution. Attorneys arguing in front of Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens in Jackson disagreed over whether the state Constitution provided a right to abortion. Owens was sympathetic, however, with arguments that the ban left pregnant women with dangerous complications and their doctors in a difficult position. “That is a possible irreparable injury to the plaintiffs. They are left with no guidance,” Owens said. The U.S. Supreme Court formally issued its judgment Tuesday in the June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling – a step that allows some state trigger laws to ban abortion to take effect. Those suing in Wyoming include a nonprofit opening a Casper women’s and LGBTQ health clinic that would have offered abortions. A May arson attack has set back the clinic’s opening from mid-June until at least the end of this year, months past the start of Wyoming’s new abortion ban. The four Wyoming women and two nonprofits that sued Monday claim the new law violates several rights guaranteed by the state constitution, including a “fundamental right to be left alone by the government."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States