Saturday, May 25, 2019

“Why the Handmaid Costume Isn't the Women's Rights Icon We Need - Artsy” plus 3 more

“Why the Handmaid Costume Isn't the Women's Rights Icon We Need - Artsy” plus 3 more


Why the Handmaid Costume Isn't the Women's Rights Icon We Need - Artsy

Posted: 24 May 2019 10:30 AM PDT

The desire to evoke a sense of fear is, for many participants, what gives the costume its strength. Tori Neal, who recently dressed as a handmaid for a protest in Huntsville, Alabama, wrote via email that the red robe is "a warning about the future." For Lexie Baker, of Denver, Colorado, the costume also signifies how American society has regressed. "The costume's purpose is to remind the onlooking audience that female rights have again been teetering, and if you care about keeping us…from slipping backwards into a totalitarian society, then you better take advantage of your right to VOTE," she wrote.

The reasons for dressing like a handmaid span solidarity, personal empowerment, inspiration for voting, and intersectional expansion for the feminist movement—all valuable, important motives. What the costumes don't do, however, is imagine a future in which circumstances are actually better for women; they just suggest an apocalyptic path. There's a bit of a slippery-slope logic operating in this new brand of demonstration: It's a terrifying, but unlikely, prospect that the U.S. will actually end up functioning like Atwood's fictional society of Gilead.

Untangling the Symbolism of Art History’s Most Famous Redheads - Artsy

Posted: 24 May 2019 10:32 AM PDT

Redheads are rare, but why should that make them particularly beguiling or innately prurient? Why did Botticelli choose to give his Venus—the goddess of sex, beauty, and love—long strawberry locks? What possessed Rossetti to chase Alexa Wilding—the woman who modeled for his La Ghirlandata (1873), in addition to other works—down the street to beg her to sit for him? (According to Jacky Colliss Harvey, author of Red: A History of the Redhead, Rossetti was an "absolutely classic example of a man with a thing for redheads, an uncontrollable thing for redheads.")

"This business of being attracted to the color red is very hardwired into us," Harvey said. Early humans developed the ability to differentiate between reds, greens, and blues as an evolutionary mechanism to help them (among other things) better forage for ripe, brightly colored fruits in overwhelmingly green forests. "And that's even before all of the associations with fire, and warmth, and sun, and blood," Harvey continued. Red is thus a highly visceral color associated with survival, sex, and strong emotion.

Dancing in the Street, Dior, Doug the Pug: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 20 May 2019 08:27 PM PDT

Alabama

Montgomery: Hundreds of demonstrators marched to the Capitol on Sunday to protest the state's newly approved abortion ban – the most stringent in the nation, making performing an abortion a felony, with no exception even for rape or incest – chanting "my body, my choice!" and "vote them out!" Similar demonstrations were held in Birmingham and Huntsville on Sunday. Alabama is part of a wave of conservative states seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade. None of the laws has actually taken effect, and all are expected to be blocked by the courts as the legal challenges play out with an ultimate eye on the Supreme Court. Amanda Reyes, who runs Yellowhammer Fund, a nonprofit that provides funding to help low-income women obtain abortions, says donations have begun streaming in since the bill's passage.

Alaska

Homer: Supporters of Storyknife Writers Retreat attended groundbreaking ceremonies this month for a main house and cabins that will house visiting female authors, the Homer News reports. Storyknife founder Dana Stabenow turned the first bit of earth at the property just north of Homer on May 4. Stabenow, the best-selling author of the Kate Shugak mystery series, spoke of being inspired to start a residency program just for women after attending the nation's only other such facility, Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island, Washington. When Storybrook is finished, there will be six cabins and a main house, Eva, named after poet Eva Saulitis, where writers will congregate after a day's work. The complex is expected to be ready by next spring, when the first group of writers attends. For more information on Storyknife, visit www.storyknife.org.

Arizona

Phoenix: The Diamondbacks have recruited their cutest, furriest player yet – Brenly, a 6-month-old golden retriever working to become a certified therapy dog and raise awareness of issues faced by abused, neglected and at-risk children, according to a statement from the baseball team. Brenly was named after sportscaster and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly, says his trainer, Blake Blackman-Woody from Gabriel's Angels, which provides pet therapy for at-risk children. The pup drew a crowd at the ballpark Sunday and proved cool and collected when swarmed by groups of children and fans at Chase Field's Phoenix Children's Hospital Sandlot. Brenly will be at the ballpark spreading love and comfort for six Sunday games this season to help prepare him for his certification test, says Debbie Castaldo, vice president of corporate and community impact for the Diamondbacks.

Arkansas

Little Rock: Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he will hire an Indiana company to operate five state youth prisons, despite lawmakers' concerns about the company's operations in other states. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the Arkansas Legislative Council voted 9-5 Friday against a contract with Youth Opportunity Investments LLC, but the governor has said he will override that vote. Lawmakers say Youth Opportunity has been issued more than a dozen written citations for poor performance in other states, and they criticize what they say was a cursory review of the company. Gov. Hutchinson says that he was "disappointed" with the lawmakers' decision and that youth facilities are monitored closely to ensure children are cared for "properly and safely." Youth Opportunity will begin operating facilities in Dermott, Harrisburg, Lewisville and Mansfield on July 1.

California

Corona: A new assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raises concern about the potential for failure of the spillway of a flood control dam on a Southern California river where 1.4 million people live downstream. The Corps says it has changed the risk characterization of Prado Dam from moderate urgency to high urgency. Prado Dam is located on the Santa Ana River in Corona, about 35 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The 96-mile river begins in the San Bernardino Mountains and runs through inland Southern California and Orange County to the ocean. It typically has little water flow except during winter, when storms can turn it into a raging torrent that historically caused serious floods. The dam, which otherwise is typically dry, was designed in the 1930s and constructed in 1941.

Colorado

Denver: U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse is calling for an investigation to be reopened into allegations that the National Park Service tried to remove references to human-caused climate change from a University of Colorado researcher's report. The Denver Post reported Sunday that the Colorado Democrat is urging the U.S. Department of the Interior's inspector general to relaunch the probe that was closed when the park service ultimately published Maria Caffrey's report, which examined projected sea level rise at coastal parks, without edits last year. Neguse says the incident raises questions about whether department researchers are "able to do their work free from political influence." Caffrey declined comment, citing involvement in legal negotiations. The newspaper could not reach National Park Service and Department of Interior officials Friday.

Connecticut

Hartford: Lawmakers are collecting clothing donations for veterans looking to join the workforce. Democratic state Rep. Dorinda Borer of West Haven and Sen. James Maroney of Milford, the co-chairs of the General Assembly's Veteran Affairs Committee, have joined forces with other state lawmakers, the nonprofit Save-A-Suit organization and the Max Cares Foundation to hold the fourth annual Save-A-Suit Drive at the state Capitol in Hartford. The May 30 event will be held from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Donations of gently used, dry-cleaned or new clothing will be accepted outside the state Capitol building, weather permitting. Organizers say they're looking for men's suits, blazers, pants, shirts, ties, sweaters, coats, belts, shoes and accessories. For women, they're seeking suits, tops, pants, dresses, skirts, bags, shoes and scarves.

Delaware

Wilmington: Cabot, a 533-pound white shark that recently appeared off the state's coast, is likely among the early-bird crowd of sharks that will be heading north along the East Coast as southern waters begin to warm. Besides making local headlines, Cabot's recent First State rest stop also marks some great news for big-fish fans who care about the health of the ocean, says Chris Fischer, founder and expedition leader of the OCEARCH research and education team, which he brought on an expedition in the Delaware Bay two years ago. "What we learned there is that the sharks are likely just kind of passing through," he says. "It's a fantastic sign for your bay if the sharks are coming by and pausing there. It means there's abundant life, and you're doing a good job managing resources."

District of Columbia

Washington: The Metro will start running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt, Maryland, this Saturday, a month ahead of schedule, WUSA-TV reports. The change comes as the system begins a giant improvement project that will close six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport. "By making this change now, we can better serve our customers impacted by the summer-long closures," Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a release. Metro said a recent weekend simulation of what this summer will look like showed officials that extending all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt would improve train spacing, reduce congestion and "maintain Metro's commitment to operate normal service outside of the shutdown area." The unprecedented three-month shutdown aims to fix crumbling outdoor station platforms that have been worn away by the elements.

Florida

Orlando: A federal judge says 32 more counties in the state must provide election materials and ballots in Spanish. A recent order from U.S. District Judge Mark Walker expanded a temporary injunction that he granted ahead of last fall's elections. Under Walker's latest order, election supervisors in the 32 counties must provide ballots in Spanish by March 2020, when the presidential primary election is held. Fifteen counties already do so. Walker's order would raise the total to almost four dozen of Florida's 67 counties. If a county holds an election before then, elections supervisors must provide sample ballots in Spanish. The order also says election supervisors must have a bilingual hotline to assist Spanish-speaking voters during early voting, provide information in Spanish on their website and recruit bilingual poll workers.

Georgia

Ellijay: A north Georgia community has come up with a unique approach to emergency medicine. WABE Radio reports that Gilmer County residents were concerned about three years ago when the local hospital prepared to close, as not having a hospital can jeopardize the health of residents and can also scare off business owners who consider locating there. The CEO of Piedmont Mountainside Hospital about 20 miles away saw an opportunity in the local facility's closing. By opening a free-standing emergency room in Gilmer County, officials could take pressure off Piedmont Mountainside's ER and hold on to their 30-35% market share in Gilmer County. The emergency room opened about a year after the old hospital closed. WABE reports it's among the first of its kind in the region.

Hawaii

Hilo: Staff from the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are settling into another temporary office in Hilo, their third move since the Kilauea volcano eruption forced the evacuation of their headquarters in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports Tina Neal, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's chief scientist, says the relocation should be complete by the end of the month and expects no glitches in the monitoring of active volcanos. The agency is awaiting congressional approval of a bill that would allocate disaster recover funds to construct new headquarters. Neal says Hawaii Island will remain its base, even if some staffers relocate to Oahu, which she says is being considered for additional technical capacity. The former headquarters on Kilauea was heavily damaged during numerous collapses and earthquakes last year.

Idaho

Idaho Falls: A former Idaho State University professor wants to solve a 1970s death mystery and is raising money to find additional clues. The Idaho Falls Post Register reports Amy Michael is raising money for DNA testing on cut-up human remains found in Buffalo Cave, also known as the Civil Defense Cave, in east Idaho near the Montana border. A family searching for arrowheads found a male torso in 1979. The arms and legs were found 12 years later. The head has not been located. Clark County Chief Deputy John Clements says cuts on the body parts indicate someone dismembered the man with a saw. Michael hopes new forensic DNA testing can help identify the dead man and says she needs $2,300 to perform the tests. She had raised $470 as of Wednesday.

Illinois

Chicago: A wildlife biologist has taken prairie chickens from Kansas, which has a more robust population, and released them in Illinois in an effort to boost the population of the endangered birds. The Chicago Tribune reports that the birds once numbered in the millions across the Prairie State, but there are now just about 200 left. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services published a pioneering scientific report last week on biodiversity that found that 1 million species, including the prairie chicken, remain imperiled. Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Bob Gillespie says a recent translocation project that captured prairie chickens from Kansas and freed them into the Prairie Ridge preserve has helped the birds stave off extinction.

Indiana

Huntertown: A conservation group says it planted 55,000 native hardwood saplings this spring on more than 100 acres of marginal farmland. ACRES Land Trust says the reforesting efforts at three of its nature preserves represent the most trees it's planted in a single year. The organization credits planning, donors and volunteer support for its brisk tree-planting pace. The Journal Gazette reports that the group reforested 80 acres of the Walter H. and E. Marie Myers Nature Preserve near the northern Indiana community of Chili, 17 acres of the James P. Covell Nature Preserve near Auburn and 9 acres at the James M. & Patricia D. Barrett Nature Preserve near Huntertown. Since 2016, the nonprofit has reforested 165 acres by planting nearly 100,000 trees at six nature preserves.

Iowa

Des Moines: An unmarked street curb has cost city taxpayers nearly $1.7 million after cyclists involved in bike crashes there sued the city over their injuries. The city has settled two such cases and now faces a third. Des Moines installed the curb in March 2017 at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Southwest 16th Street. It was part of an intersection redesign to direct pedestrians to a brick crosswalk across the road just south of downtown. In several lawsuits filed against the city, cyclists claimed they were injured after striking the unmarked curb while riding east on the trail. The 6-inch curb, which has since been removed, cut off what was previously a straight path for cyclists using the Martin Luther King Jr. Trail, forcing them to veer left to reach the ramp at the crosswalk.

Kansas

Garden City: Hispanic residents make up more than half of the population in Ford, Finney and Seward counties, but there is only one Hispanic elected official in all three southwestern Kansas counties and their three largest cities. KCUR-FM reports that some groups want to recruit more Hispanic candidates so residents can choose leaders who truly represent them. Karem Gallo, president of the Liberal chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, says the group has been working to let Latino residents know they have support to seek public office. Garden City School Board member Tim Cruz says money and time remain the biggest hurdles, while Finney County Commissioner William Clifford points to the county Republican Party's failure to recruit immigrant groups. Clifford, who chairs the party, says immigrants deserve representation.

Kentucky

Louisville: Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has lashed out at protesting teachers and ridiculed judges during a tumultuous term steering the commonwealth on a conservative course. Now the pugnacious governor faces the first test of his re-election campaign in a race that could offer clues about the electorate's mood heading into a presidential election year. Voters get to speak Tuesday in a state where the GOP has recently dominated but Democrats see an opportunity to win back the governorship. Three prominent Democrats, including the son of Bevin's predecessor, are competing for the chance to challenge Bevin. The leading Democrats are Attorney General Andy Beshear, ex-state auditor Adam Edelen and longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins. Beshear's father served two terms as governor. Bevin has three Republican primary challengers, including state Rep. Robert Goforth.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: The state's debt load has declined for the first time in a decade, a notable benchmark as Louisiana tries to get a handle on its finances after years of budget gaps and record borrowing. But the amount Louisiana owes for every man, woman and child still outstrips the national average. An updated debt report presented to the State Bond Commission shows Louisiana's per capita, tax-supported debt dipped to $1,497 in 2018. That's down $61 per person from $1,558 a year earlier, as the state works to shrink its outstanding obligations for construction projects. It was the first drop in the debt load since 2008, after years of continued rises. Louisiana owes an amount per state resident that is lower than in 2014, when it hovered slightly above $1,500.

Maine

Portland: With recreational marijuana legalization in sight, the state is looking to learn from mistakes its counterparts have made in legalizing the drug. The state's proposed marijuana rules will be the subject of a public hearing in Portland on Thursday that officials expect will be well attended. It's the latest step on the road to a legal framework that pot lovers and state officials say they hope will weed out problems such as oversupply and underage use that have cropped up elsewhere. Maine voters chose to legalize adult use marijuana in 2016, but the legal sales haven't started because of trouble implementing laws as political squabbles slow the process. The state now has draft rules in hand that could govern subjects such as licensure and cultivation, and the Legislature must approve them.

Maryland

Ocean City: Assateague Coastal Trust is bringing back its internationally recognized Swim Guide water quality monitoring program to monitor and report on the health of area waterways. Swim Guide is a smartphone app that enables users to find safe beaches and swimming areas to recreate and enjoy the waterways through a simple platform that relays local area water quality, according to a news release. The app is available at the Apple App Store, Google Play and Theswimguide.org. The program will run through Labor Day weekend. This year the organization is monitoring 10 locations throughout Herring and Turville Creek, Isle of Wight Bay, Assawoman Bay and the St. Martin River, according to a news release.

Massachusetts

Boston: A letter written by Alexander Hamilton in 1780 to the Marquis de Lafayette that was stolen from the state archives decades ago has been found, and now an effort is underway to return it. The U.S. attorney's office in Boston filed a forfeiture complaint in federal court last week asking a judge to order the Revolutionary War-era letter returned to its rightful owner. Hamilton's letter was stolen by an archives employee sometime between 1937 and 1945, according to the government. "The theft, which also involved original papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and Benedict Arnold, among others, was not discovered for several years," the federal complaint says. Most of the other documents were recovered, but Hamilton's letter remained missing. The letter to the French aristocrat who served as a general in the Continental Army appears to detail the movements of British forces.

Michigan

Detroit: The Motown Museum has created a park that was unveiled Sunday in conjunction with a celebration of its founder, Esther Gordy Edwards. Thousands headed to Hitsville, U.S.A., to salute the homegrown music legacy. Dancing in the Street Park was officially inaugurated with a spirited "Dancing in the Street" by Martha Reeves in a rare public reunion with the original Vandellas, Rosalind Ashford-Holmes and Annette Beard. Young performers from the museum's summer-camp programs stepped up for often-impressive renditions of Motown classics by Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Temptations, as Reeves sat nearby keeping time with a handheld shaker. Mayor Mike Duggan was among those on hand for the opening of the cozy plaza next to the Hitsville building, located in the former home of Motown Records' offices and studio. The lot had sat vacant since 1971, when the office-house there was destroyed in a fire.

Minnesota

St. Paul: Department of Health officials say the state needs more community paramedics to assist residents leaving the hospital in managing chronic health conditions at home. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that the state agency says there are 127 certified community paramedics, nearly half working in the Twin Cities. Regions Hospital in St. Paul has partnered with the city's fire department and a health clinic on a three-year community paramedic program. The project made nearly 1,000 home visits to help people manage diabetes and high blood pressure. Nearly half of the program's hypertension patients lowered their blood pressure to a healthy level, while almost 80% of diabetic patients reduced blood sugar levels. Aaron Burnett, who oversees the program, says patients are coming back to the hospital less and are more satisfied with their care.

Mississippi

Tupelo: The Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition is gearing up for a summer nutrition program to help needy families. The group is extending its weekend backpack program that provides food for families of children who qualify for free and reduced-price school meals. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that the coalition aims to feed up to 800 students this summer through its Break Box program. Coalition director Jason Martin says 20% of Lee County residents are considered to be food insecure. Summer food boxes are filled with shelf-stable items, including milk, juice, canned vegetables and fruit, and protein, like chicken and tuna. The boxes will also include meals that children can heat in a microwave, plus snack items. The coalition will distribute boxes monthly in June, July and August.

Missouri

El Dorado Springs: Scientists are preparing to end a seven-year program that has reintroduced the first federally endangered species to the state because the beetles are showing signs they could survive on their own. The St. Louis Zoo has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nature Conservancy to restore American burying beetles in Missouri since 2012. The program has released more than 2,800 American burying beetles in the soil at Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie near El Dorado Springs. Merz tells the Joplin Globe that the program has seen "positive trends that indicate it is time to see how the beetles are doing on their own." Merz says scientists will continue to monitor the species, but the beetles will have to find their own food sources.

Montana

Helena: The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest has grown with the acquisition of about 620 acres. The Independent Record reports that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has transferred ownership of the Green Mountain National Trails property to the U.S. Forest Service, opening the land to the public. Foundation chief conservation officer Blake Henning says the land about 35 miles east of Lincoln is within the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail corridor and the Continental Divide Grizzly Bear Recovery Area. The land also contains part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The foundation says the trail was rerouted out of the private property to public lands several years ago, but the trail will now be restored to its historic route.

Nebraska

Norfolk: Ten artistic additions to the city have been installed as the inaugural Norfolk Sculpture Walk officially began this month. The 10 sculptures that will be featured this year include lifelike bronze statues, steel creations up to 7 feet high and intricate works of stone. Traci Jeffrey, director of the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau, told the Norfolk Daily News there's something everyone will enjoy. Those partaking in the sculpture walk are encouraged to vote for a favorite online. The winner will be announced at the Riverpoint Arts Festival in September. Each sculpture is also for sale. The Norfolk Sculpture Walk was inspired by other such walks around the region and brought to the city by a committee of area residents, artists and the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau in partnership with the City of Norfolk, the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, the Norfolk Arts Center and numerous sponsors.

Nevada

Reno: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved $75,000 for a contractor to assess hazards and clean up waste at a site north of the city that's polluted with ammunition casings left by target shooters. Kurt Miers, an environmental protection specialist for the agency, says the piles of casings have contaminated the soil with lead. He says the contamination is as much as four times what's considered the maximum allowable level for lead in residential areas. The site near Chimney Road at the north end of Sun Valley is near hundreds of homes and a middle school under construction. Target shooting is allowed on most public lands but illegal within 5,000 feet of homes.

New Hampshire

Lincoln: An analysis says the Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad in the state accounts for more than $17.4 million in total economic impact annually. The report released by Stone Consulting of Warren, Pennsylvania, says that amount affects nearly 380 full- and part-time jobs in the restaurant, hospitality and retail sectors. The railroad operates excursions from Lincoln, Meredith and Weirs Beach. The report says last year, 61% of its passengers traveled from outside New Hampshire, resulting in $8.8 million in additional spending while visiting. In 2018, the railroad welcomed more than 260 bus tours, which accounted for nearly 12,000 additional guests to the region, and more than 50% stayed overnight after traveling on the railroad.

New Jersey

Newark: Oprah Winfrey announced she's giving $500,000 to an initiative at a high school that's aimed at keeping kids off the streets. Principal Akbar Cook's "Lights On" program keeps West Side High School in Newark open on Friday nights from 6 p.m. to midnight. WPVI-TV reports kids can play basketball, shoot pool, play video games or even use a recording studio. Winfrey's gift will help the program operate three nights a week over the summer. She told hundreds of cheering students Friday during a surprise visit that she was inspired by "all of the great things that are happening here." Cook also garnered headlines last fall for installing washing machines so students who couldn't afford to wash their clothes wouldn't miss school because they were being bullied for wearing dirty clothes.

New Mexico

Hobbs: Two counties in the state remain among the top oil-producing counties in the U.S., according to new federal numbers. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that Lea County was the No. 2 oil-producing county in January, behind North Dakota's McKenzie County, The Hobbs News-Sun reports. Lea County produced 14.6 million barrels of oil in January, the report says. Meanwhile, New Mexico's Eddy County was listed as the No. 6 top oil-producing county. It produced 10 million barrels during the same month. In November, a group of major oil and gas companies with plays in the Permian Basin announced the formation of an energy alliance, collectively committing more than $100 million over the next several years to spur additional private-sector investment in the region.

New York

Southampton: The U.S. Coast Guard says work is underway to extract oil from a British tanker sunk by a German U-boat off Long Island during World War II. The Coast Guard says in a news release that a team has been at the site of the tanker, named Coimbra, since April 29 and has pumped more than 62,000 gallons of oil from its tanks since May 11. Initial dive operations found the tanker was leaking small amounts of oil. The Coimbra was torpedoed in January 1942, killing 36 officers and crew members about 30 miles off Long Island's south shore. It's now about 180 feet deep. German U-boats sank 148 petroleum tankers and countless other ships near the U.S. Gulf and East coasts.

North Carolina

Hatteras: Long-awaited passenger-only ferry service between two popular Outer Banks destinations is finally sailing. The Department of Transportation says runs between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages began Monday with two free preview days. It costs $1 per person starting Wednesday. Currently space will be first-come, first-serve. State ferries already transport people and their vehicles for free between the southern end of Hatteras Island and northern tip of Ocracoke Island. Motorists then drive 12 miles to reach Ocracoke Village. The passenger-only ferry will run three times daily through Sept. 5. There's no extra charge for bicycles. Passenger-only service was supposed to begin last year but got delayed by boat construction issues.

North Dakota

Fargo: The state is once again tops in the nation in the production of honey. The Agriculture Department says producers with five or more colonies totaled 38.2 million pounds of honey in 2018, up 13% from the previous year. That led the nation for the 15th consecutive year. The number of honey-producing colonies in North Dakota was up 16% to 530,000. Average yield was down 2 pounds, to 72 pounds per colony. The total value of honey produced in the state was up 12%, to $71.7 million. Nationally, honey production was up 2%, to 152 million pounds. Montana produced the second-most honey, followed by California, South Dakota and Florida.

Ohio

Cleveland: The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is expanding its Eastern black rhino exhibit to more than twice its current size to accommodate its herd of five rhinos. A zoo release says the $1.5 million expansion will be paid for by the Cleveland Zoological Society and Cleveland Metroparks. It also will include an expanded viewing deck for guests. Other renovations will add an indoor rhino barn, a wallowing pool, and shading and misting areas to cool the rhinos. Zoo Executive Director Chris Kuhar says expansion of the exhibit in the zoo's African Savanna area will allow staff to better care for the herd. He says the Eastern black rhino is one of the world's most endangered species. Construction will begin this fall and is expected to finish in the spring of 2020.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: Officials monitoring the state's Department of Human Services have said the agency's child-welfare system has had its best performance to date but have also warned it needs to increase the number of foster homes for children who require therapeutic care. The Tulsa World reports that the biannual assessment released Friday says the department made "good faith efforts" in 29 of the 31 criteria measuring child welfare. The oversight panel also says the department has seen a 77% decline in specialized foster homes for children in state custody who need therapeutic care. The reports are issued twice a year by monitors as part of a 2012 settlement that alleged foster children were victimized in state care.

Oregon

Salem: A multifaceted gun control bill pushed by Democrats in the Legislature may be dead this session, but advocates and opponents alike are confident it will return. Senate Bill 978 was a casualty of the deal that got Senate Republicans to end their four-day walkout and return to the Capitol, allowing Democrats to pass a multibillion-dollar education revenue bill May 13. The move to include SB978 in the trade disappointed gun control advocates inside and outside the Capitol. The measure would have required safe gun storage; placed liability on gun owners if a gun is stolen, but not reported, and used to injure a person or property; outlawed untraceable and undetectable firearms; granted local authorities the power to regulate firearm access in public buildings; and allowed retailers to set higher minimum purchasing age restrictions.

Pennsylvania

York: The state has the nation's highest debt among its recent college graduates, according to Peterson's financial aid survey, an annual voluntary survey of four-year colleges and universities. The survey uncovered that the average loan debt is $36,193 for a 2017 graduate of a Pennsylvania school, compared to the national average of $28,288. Michael Brown, a data analyst for LendEDU, studied the numbers and found that schools in the Northeast consistently ranked among the highest in the nation for debt per student. "I think, just in general, the cost of living in this part of the country is just more expensive than it is in other parts of the country," Brown said. Loans may cover everything the student can't afford to pay, including tuition, housing, food and transportation costs.

Rhode Island

Richmond: The state has created breeding wetlands to support the endangered Eastern spadefoot toad. The Westerly Sun reports that the state Department of Environmental Management, the University of Rhode Island and several conservancy organizations have teamed up for "Operation Spadefoot RI" in Richmond. The project aims to build new breeding grounds in areas where the toads are already known to be. Eastern spadefoot toad populations have declined dramatically in the state in recent decades. The toads require specialized wetlands that are vulnerable to disturbance, and much of their habitat has been lost or degraded because of human development. The new wetlands are located on land protected jointly by the Richmond Rural Preservation Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy.

South Carolina

Columbia: It has been a historic year in the Legislature. This is the first time in the state's history that nine African American women have served simultaneously in the House of Representatives, a monumental moment shared among a sisterhood of women who say their primary mission is to serve. The African American women serving in the House are Reps. Wendy Brawley of Hopkins, Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg, Chandra Dillard of Greenville, Rosalyn D. Henderson-Myers of Spartanburg, Patricia Henegan of Bennettsville, Annie E. McDaniel of Winnsboro, J. Anne Parks of Greenwood, Leola Robinson Simpson of Greenville and Krystle Simmons of Ladson. And whether it is their first year or their 28th year in the Legislature, the lawmakers say they are passionate about their service and the difference they can make.

South Dakota

Rapid City: Bronze statues of Presidents George W. Bush and Harry S. Truman have been returned to their spots in downtown Rapid City – and local leaders have picked a spot for the 44th president. The statue of Barack Obama will join 43 other presidents who stand at street corners throughout downtown. Obama's likeness will be unveiled in a ceremony July 13. The City of Presidents tourist attraction project began in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American presidency. The Rapid City Tribune says the Truman and Bush statues were damaged when they were hit by vehicles. They sustained some dents and scratches and required a new bronze finish from Spearfish sculptor James Michael Maher.

Tennessee

Nashville: Local canine celebrity Doug the Pug had a big day Monday, as Mayor David Briley has declared May 20 "Doug the Pug Day." Briley designated the date for the local holiday because it's the birthday of Music City's furry friend. Monday was also National Rescue Dog Day, which seeks to bring attention to the benefits of adopting a four-legged friend. Doug's owner, Leslie Mosier, encouraged all of the pug's fans to engage in "chillin' hard" and eating "lots of pizza" during the holiday. Doug currently has 2.8 million followers on Twitter and 3.8 million on Instagram, plus more than 6 million likes on Facebook.

Texas

Dallas: The more than 70 years of fashion created by the famed House of Dior will be examined in an exhibit in the city that features almost 200 dresses. "Dior: From Paris to the World" opened Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibit profiles the Parisian fashion house's founder, Christian Dior, along with subsequent artistic directors, who include Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano. The show also explores Dallas' link to the fashion house's history: Christian Dior visited the city in 1947 to receive luxury retailer Neiman Marcus' award for distinguished service in fashion. That was the same year Dior presented his first collection, which became known as the New Look. The exhibit was previously at the Denver Art Museum. Dallas is its only other U.S. stop.

Utah

Ogden: Students interested in science and technology will soon be able to attend class in an old military plane. The Standard-Examiner reports a Vietnam-era cargo plane has been converted into a classroom for science, technology, engineering and math students and attached to a museum at the Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City. Crews renovated a plane that had been stored at The Hill Aerospace Museum and Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah for decades and connected it to the building. The classroom was dedicated in a May 14 ceremony. Museum education instructor Mark Standing told The Standard-Examiner that the classroom will be used for aerospace lessons, science experiments, competitions and other activities.

Vermont

Montpelier: A high school prankster who damaged school property is finally paying the price – and then some – just in time for his 25th reunion. As a Montpelier High School senior, Michael Burzycki painted and stitched together tarps to create a 60-by-16-foot banner that read "LIVE LONG AND PROSPER CLASS OF 1994." He and a classmate lugged it up to the school's roof and triumphantly hung it up outside the auditorium. But water bottles they used to weigh down the corners ended up breaking a window. Principal Peter Clarke didn't punish him. Instead he handed him a bill for $1,994, due at Burzycki's 25th reunion. Burzycki told WPTZ-TV that he has the money but wanted to do more, so he started a GoFundMe page for the school that has raised more than $5,000.

Virginia

Melfa: The president of a foundation seeking to establish a four-year university on the state's Eastern Shore has asked officials to consider committing land at the county industrial park in Melfa to the project. A four-year university could grow to about 2,000 students and result in 1,000 jobs and up to $100 million per year in cash flow, according to the foundation. Terry Malarkey, president of the University of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Foundation, told the Accomack County Board of Supervisors the group wants to recruit "a high-quality" science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health university to set up a branch on the shore. He said if Virginia were considered and ranked as two separate education entities – the Rural Horseshoe and the urban corridor – "rural Virginia comes in 50th in the United States," while the urban section ranks second, behind only Massachusetts. Combined, Virginia ranks sixth.

Washington

Vashon Island: This idyllic island near Seattle known for its counterculture lifestyle and low immunization rates is seeing an increase in the number of children vaccinated for measles and other diseases. Advocates attribute the rising vaccination numbers on Vashon Island to increasingly visible pro-vaccine information, expanded access to shots, and media coverage of measles outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest and New York this year. Public health officials say the number of fully immunized kindergartners in the Vashon Island School District jumped by 31% in the past six years, from 56% to nearly 74% in the 2017-18 school year. While the gains are notable, the district still has some of the lowest vaccine rates in the U.S. It's far below the 95% target needed for herd immunity that a majority of schools across the country hit.

West Virginia

Charleston: State lawmakers have reconvened for their special session but are pushing back debate on education measures that caused a two-day teacher strike earlier this year. The House of Delegates and the Senate met Monday to take up bills that were vetoed for technical reasons. Legislators were supposed to focus on education this week, but Republican Senate President Mitch Carmichael says the GOP is still working on its proposals. Republicans are expected to push for charter schools and school vouchers, which drew strong opposition from teachers and led to a strike. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have debuted eight education bills that include measures to raise teachers' pay and put mental health professionals in schools. The extra session comes after lawmakers failed to compromise on education when the regular session ended in March.

Wisconsin

Madison: An industry expert says the impending bankruptcy of a major frac sand mining company signals the financial woes that could cripple more mines based in the state due to a nationwide oversupply of sand. Wisconsin Public Radio reports that Emerge Energy Services entered into a debt restructuring deal with its lenders last month. The company owns Superior Silica Sands. CEO Rick Shearer says restructuring negotiations are ongoing. The company may file for bankruptcy if a settlement isn't struck out of court. An energy consulting director at analytics firm IHS Markit says up to 75% of Wisconsin mines that supply oil and gas producers might have to close. Samir Nangia says the oversupply is due to companies building more mines near oil fields in Texas and Oklahoma. 

Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs: Yellowstone National Park is proposing to add more housing for seasonal workers employed by private companies operating inside the park. Park administrators are taking public comment on plans to construct six modular houses and up to 14 RV sites at the Canyon Campground and up to 25 RV sites and a bathhouse near the park's west entrance. The projects would be paid for by two park concessionaires – Delaware North Corporation and Xanterra. More than 3,000 people work for Yellowstone concessionaires during the peak summer tourist season. A study of the proposals says they would have minimal negative effects on the environment and visitor experiences. Park officials are taking comment on the housing projects through June 14.

From staff and wire reports

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Huge human hair ball, zombie archives, Tav Falco: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 19 May 2019 09:30 PM PDT

Alabama

Atmore: A lawyer for a condemned inmate says he hoped Gov. Kay Ivey might block his client's execution after she talked about her pro-life beliefs in signing a bill to virtually outlaw abortion in the state. It wasn't to be. Michael Brandon Samra was put to death by lethal injection Thursday the day after Ivey signed the restrictive abortion bill while talking about her belief that "life is precious." Defense attorney Steve Sears says that he gained hope from Ivey's statement about life but that Samra was resigned to death. Ivey issued a statement after the execution noting Samra's conviction and the four killings. She said that Alabama won't stand for the loss of life and that punishment was deserved. Samra was convicted of killing two adults and two girls in 1997.

Alaska

North Pole: Travelers visited the city this past week to show their Christmas spirit at the Santa Claus House, and some used the visit to renew their wedding vows. Princess Cruises has offered an annual "Santa Cruise" trip to North Pole for the past three years, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. A bus operated by the cruise line arrived at the house in the community near Fairbanks on Wednesday. Guests were greeted by Paul Brown, operations manager at the Santa Claus House. "It's always exciting to see so many of Santa's helpers come visit him here at his house in North Pole, Alaska," Brown said. Couples clad in red, white and green renewed wedding vows in the house with help from an ordained minister from Florida dressed as Santa. He, too, got married during the event.

Arizona

Mesa: The metro Phoenix light rail line's latest extension opened Saturday, along with two new stations and a park-and-ride transit center. Valley Metro Rail opened the 2-mile extension of the line eastward along Main Street in Mesa to Gilbert Road, lengthening the system to 28 miles. Dignitaries participating in the ceremony included Mayors John Giles of Mesa and Kate Gallego of Phoenix and U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, a former Phoenix mayor. The system extends westward from Mesa across Tempe and much of Phoenix, passing through downtown areas of all three cities and providing service to Arizona State University campuses in Tempe and Phoenix. The extension and transit project was funded by $173.5 million in federal funding and $10.5 million in local funding from Mesa.

Arkansas

Bentonville: Walmart has released additional plans for its new 350-acre northwest Arkansas campus that will include four quadrants connected by bike and walking paths, an on-campus child care facility and a fitness center. The world's largest retailer said Friday that new buildings will be designed and constructed in the next two years, with a goal of opening the site in phases between 2020 and 2024. The new site is blocks away from its current Bentonville Home Office, which was built in 1971. Walmart says its new headquarters will include solar panels on some buildings and parking decks. It'll also have "flexible workspaces" and various dining options. Walmart announced it was moving its headquarters in 2017. It has not said how much it will cost to replace the old office.

California

San Francisco: A growing number of shipping companies are slowing down as they approach San Francisco and other ports along the state's coast so they are less likely to injure or kill whales. Marine experts say four of the 10 gray whales found dead near San Francisco this year were killed by ships, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. When the campaign started about six years ago, only 17% of incoming ships were slowing down, said Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary superintendent Maria Brown. Now 45% are throttling down by half, to 10 knots. There are no speed limits at sea, so vessels can zip along as fast as they want, usually 20 knots, or about 23 mph. The large vessels often travel through national marine sanctuaries to get to their destination ports.

Colorado

Denver: Gov. Jared Polis has signed legislation aimed at lowering prescription costs by importing drugs from Canada. The Denver Post reports the bill signed Thursday will require federal approval before it can take effect. Polis says he has spoken with President Donald Trump, who has praised a similar plan in Florida. The law tasks the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing with creating a plan for safely importing Canadian drugs and presenting a proposal to U.S. Health and Human Services by September 2020. Rep. Jaquez Lewis, a Boulder-area Democrat who sponsored the bill, says too many Coloradans have to choose between feeding their families and paying for life-saving drugs. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has called the proposal a gimmick, and some are skeptical it will lower prices.

Connecticut

New Haven: Women who lost children to gun violence were among a crowd that gathered to break ground over the weekend on a new garden that will honor hundreds of victims killed by firearms dating back more than 50 years. The New Haven Register reports nearly 100 people took part in the ceremony Saturday at the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence. The garden is expected to open by the spring of next year and include garden beds and bricks with information on the victims. Celestine Bradley, whose son was killed in a shooting, says the garden will be a peaceful place to remember loved ones. Officials say the garden will honor more than 600 gun violence victims killed in New Haven since 1968.

Delaware

Dover: Prison officials are investigating allegations that a group of correctional employees including a warden verbally and physically harassed a woman overseeing a group of preschool children during a park outing. The May 10 incident involved a dispute over a parking spot at Glasgow Park in northern Delaware, where the prison workers were having a barbecue to celebrate National Correctional Officer Appreciation Week. Amanda Hobson of Elkton, Maryland, says the prison workers, including Warden Carole Evans, targeted her with vulgar language and obscene gestures in front of the preschoolers because they thought they were entitled to the parking space she was using. Hobson was forced to call police after the prison workers blocked in her car with one of their vehicles and with a meat smoker.

District of Columbia

Washington: Four demonstrators arrested after a weeks­long protest inside the Venezuelan Embassy have been formally charged in federal court. Prosecutors say Kevin Bruce Zeese, Margaret Ann Flowers, Adrienne Pine and David Vernon Paul appeared before a judge Friday. They say an arrest warrant was issued last week, and the four were arrested Thursday at the embassy in Georgetown. The U.S. attorney's office in Washington says they've been charged with interfering with the protective functions of the State Department. The protesters consider Nicola Maduro the legitimate Venezuelan president. But the U.S. and more than 50 other countries say Maduro's recent re-lection was fraudulent and are backing congressional leader Juan Guaidos claim to the presidency.

Florida

Tallahassee: The state will build three new major toll highways through mostly rural areas under a bill signed Friday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite objections raised by environmentalists. The legislation was Republican Senate President Bill Galvano's top priority. He wants the highways to spur job growth in rural areas, relieve congestion on Interstates 75 and 4, and provide new hurricane evacuation routes. One will connect Collier County in the southwest to Lakeland, located between Tampa and Orlando. Another would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to Jefferson County, which borders Georgia. The other would extend from the north end of the Florida Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway.

Georgia

Atlanta: A billionaire technology investor and philanthropist says his family is providing grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 class at Morehouse College. Robert F. Smith made the announcement Sunday morning in front of nearly 400 graduating seniors and elicited the biggest cheers of the morning. Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the ceremony. He had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the pledge to eliminate the student debt for the class has been estimated at $40 million. Morehouse College is an all-male historically black college. Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data and technology-driven companies.

Hawaii

Kailua-Kona: A CT scan performed on a Hawaiian monk seal at a hospital has shown that the animal is suffering from muscle inflammation and infection, officials say. The scan performed April 21 at North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea discovered the 3-year-old female seal's inflammation and infection in her back flippers spread to her bloodstream and caused a wide range of other problems, West Hawaii Today reports. The endangered mammal, identified as RH38, is one of only 1,400 alive in the wild. The seal is receiving antibiotics, pain medications and laser therapy at the Marine Mammal Center on the Big Island, where she has been under care since March 12. Officials suspect trauma as the initial cause of the injury based on the location and extent of the muscle damage.

Idaho

Boise: Federal officials plan to release 45 wild horses later this month in an event that's open to the public. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a news release Friday that the horses will be released in three different locations south of Marsing, in southwestern Idaho. Those interested should meet at the I-O-N Truck Plaza in Marsing at 10 a.m. May 29 to drive to the release location. The agency says 279 wild horses were captured in 2015 following the 436-square-mile Soda Fire. Eighty of those horses were adopted by private entities. The horses being returned to the area were cared for at the Boise Wild Horse Corrals and the Bruneau Off-Range Corrals while the burned areas recovered.

Illinois

Chicago: Metra says kids may ride for free this summer when accompanied by a parent. Suburban Chicago's commuter rail agency says up to three children age 11 and under will be able to ride for free with an adult from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Metra CEO Jim Derwinski says traveling on Metra is "a great opportunity to spend time together as a family without having to worry about traffic and parking." Metra is offering early "getaway trains" out of Chicago on May 24 to start the holiday weekend. The agency's $10 weekend pass will be good on Memorial Day as well as on Saturday and Sunday. There will be no service on the North Central Service, Heritage Corridor and SouthWest Service lines on Memorial Day.

Indiana

Ellettsville: A southern Indiana nature preserve is reopening with a new boardwalk for visitors to cross through a marsh area. The boardwalk goes for a half-mile on a 1.5-mile loop trail through the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve near Bloomington. The preserve was closed last summer so Sycamore Land Trust volunteers and contractors could build the elevated boardwalk with nonslip plastic decking. Sycamore's Chris Fox tells The (Bloomington) Herald-Times that 550 posts were set into the marshy ground, with ramps and turnarounds built to make it more accessible to people with limited mobility. The group says the area is home to some of Indiana's endangered species, including the Indiana bat, Kirtland's snake, crawfish frog and rare orchids.

Iowa

Dubuque: The top prosecutor in Dubuque County says he has no immediate plans to file charges against a group that's been violating state law by distributing sterile needles to intravenous drug users. The group Dubuque Harm Reduction has been open about its activities, sending a letter to county supervisors earlier this month that detailed the group's services and included an offer to be a resource to the county. The Telegraph Herald reports that the nonprofit provides medical-grade clean injection supplies and offers HIV and hepatitis C testing, wound care kits and fentanyl-testing strips. A bill legalizing such services in Iowa failed to advance during the recent legislative session. The prosecutor, County Attorney C.J. May III, says it's obvious there's a public health issue involved.

Kansas

Topeka: Abused and neglected children are again sleeping overnight in the offices of foster care contractors in the state because homes cannot be found for them quickly enough. According to the Department for Children and Families, more than 70 children have been kept overnight in the offices of the two nonprofit agencies providing foster care services beginning in January, when Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly took office. Her Republican predecessor's administration kept children from sleeping in offices during its final months. The state agency provided statistics in response to questions from the Associated Press after it received a tip that the practice had returned. Kelly, legislators and child welfare advocates have repeatedly cited the practice as a sign of serious problems in the child welfare system since it came to light in 2017.

Kentucky

Louisville: A former Miss America is among 19 candidates running in down-ballot races that include secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, treasurer and auditor. In several races where the candidates agree on most issues, biography likely will matter to voters. Heather French Henry, who was crowned Miss America in 2000, has said her experience running the Department of Veterans Affairs, with its 900 employees and $100 million budget, has given her the experience she needs to run the secretary of state's office. She's a Democrat. That open seat drew the most challengers for the May primary, with four Democrats and four Republicans seeking to succeed Democratic incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes. She can't run again due to term limits.

Louisiana

New Orleans: A new lion exhibit is opening at the Audubon Zoo. During a recent tour, the African lions were seen lounging in the shade of an enormous rock surrounded by open grass and tree limbs. The scene is reminiscent of the African savanna and is part of the new exhibit that opened Saturday. Visitors will be able to see critically endangered lions – three females and a full-maned male – from the safety of a fictional train station. Rail cars with glass-fronted openings to the "savanna" include informational displays about threats facing lions in the wild, such as poaching and habitat loss, as well as efforts underway to save them. Zoo curator and Vice President Joel Hamilton says there are only about 20,000 lions left in Africa.

Maine

Vinalhaven: The foundation dedicated to turning pop artist Robert Indiana's island home into a museum is ready to engage with local residents about the details of the project. Star of Hope Foundation Chairman Larry Sterrs says the process gets underway with a visit to Vinalhaven on Monday, the day after the anniversary of Indiana's death. Sterrs will be meeting with community leaders and discussing their concerns. Indiana is best known for his iconic "LOVE" series. He died May 19, 2018, on Vinalhaven Island. Sterrs says the foundation is continuing its work even as a lawsuit against Indiana's estate heats up. The suit accuses Indiana of agreeing to unauthorized reproductions. About $66 million in Indiana's estate is tied up because of the lawsuit.

Maryland

Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Hospital has filed thousands of lawsuits since 2009 against patients with unpaid medical bills. The Baltimore Sun reports The Coalition for a Humane Hopkins says a large portion of the lawsuits target residents of low-income neighborhoods around the hospital's East Baltimore campus. The coalition is made up of activists, patients and groups such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. Its report says the hospital has been filing an increasing number of cases over the years. The Sun reported in 2008 that dozens of Maryland hospitals sued over unpaid bills between 2003 and 2008 and won at least $100 million. It found that the hospitals pursued the lawsuits even as they charged other patients higher rates to cover costs of uninsured or low-income patients.

Massachusetts

Boston: State marijuana regulators have approved of a plan to slowly roll out "cannabis cafes" where adults could use pot in a social setting. The 3-2 vote by the Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday calls for an initial test program in as many as a dozen communities where licenses would be granted for social consumption establishments. Marijuana use might also be allowed at certain outdoor public events. The program, however, could not move forward without a change in state law that would give local communities the power to authorize cannabis cafes. Bills are pending in the Legislature to do that. The commission is recommending stringent rules to prevent people under 21 from entering social consumption sites, plus training for employees to recognize when a patron is too high to drive safely.

Michigan

Brooks Township: The Michigan Nature Association says 40 acres have been purchased in Newaygo County's Brooks Township for the Brooks Oak-Pine Barrens Nature Sanctuary, part of a Karner blue butterfly mitigation project. The nonprofit says the endangered butterfly is one of Michigan's rarest. It requires dry-sand prairie and oak-barren habitats that can support wild lupine, a native wildflower. The larvae of the Karner blue butterfly feed exclusively on wild lupine. Michigan Nature Association conservation director Andrew Bacon says there are no Karner blue butterflies at the new sanctuary, but "it is an excellent candidate for butterfly restoration given the high-quality habitats that are present and the close proximity of existing Karner blue butterfly populations."

Minnesota

Minneapolis: A new report using U.S. Census Bureau data shows the price of housing in the seven-county Twin Cities region is more expensive than cities such as Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and St. Louis, Missouri. Minnesota Public Radio News reports the Family Housing Fund study indicated the region is on a path to becoming as costly as Denver or Seattle. The report also found there is a substantial lack of housing in the Twin Cities to accommodate a burgeoning workforce. Family Housing Fund President Ellen Sahli says 1 in 5 employees in the Twin Cities region pay over 30% of their income each month for a place to live. The report says that the housing shortfall could result in nearly 50,000 fewer jobs in the region in 20 years.

Mississippi

Ocean Springs: This city on the Gulf Coast is moving ahead with plans to build a new sidewalk by a beach, after homeowners lost a legal battle to block the project. The Mississippi Press reports Ocean Springs is receiving $384,000 from the Mississippi Department of Transportation for the East Beach sidewalk. The city will contribute another $96,000, and work could begin after Oct. 1. Mayor Shea Dobson says the sidewalk will improve beach access for all residents. Two East Beach homeowners opposed the project for years, and that led to six legal actions and three trips to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Justices issued a final ruling in November. They said that the beach belongs to the state and that people living by it have no ownership rights.

Missouri

Jefferson City: Lawmakers have passed a measure that could send former President Harry Truman back to the U.S. Capitol. The measure given final approval Thursday would put Truman's statue in place of one of former Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, who was instrumental in the nation's westward expansion. State lawmakers passed something similar last year. But it was vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson because the version sent to him mistakenly referenced the accomplishments of Benton's great-great nephew, a famous painter by the same name. All states are allotted two statues in the Capitol. Missouri's other Capitol statue features former Sen. Francis Preston Blair Jr., who was instrumental in keeping Missouri out of the Confederacy. The likenesses of Blair and Benton both have been on display in Washington, D.C., since 1899.

Montana

Red Lodge: Highway crews have been working for more than a month to clear snow from the Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge. Crews hope to have the seasonal road open by May 24 – the start of Memorial Day weekend. Montana Department of Transportation crews are clearing snow from an 11-mile stretch of the road to the top of Beartooth Pass, on the Wyoming border. The National Park Service maintains the rest of the scenic road as it dips into Wyoming, back into Montana and into Yellowstone National Park at Cooke City. The Billings Gazette reports road maintenance crews also remove fallen rocks and repair guardrails damaged over the winter.

Nebraska

Grand Island: A technologically advanced van is helping the city determine how to keep its streets in good shape and save taxpayer money in the process. Grand Island has hired an Illinois-based firm, Engineering & Research International, to complete the project. The street assessment van going up and down the more than 300 miles of Grand Island streets is equipped with high-resolution cameras, ground-penetrating radar, global positioning systems and onboard computers. The van equipment will look at such things as cracks in the roads and roughness. The survey information helps determine which sections of pavement to overlay – something of vital interest to the public, says John Collins, the city public works director. Using the data to prioritize can save the city up to $400,000 annually, he says.

Nevada

Las Vegas: Elected officials in rural Nye County say they support moving forward with a long-studied but mothballed national nuclear waste repository in the state, unlike their counterparts in urban Las Vegas, about 90 miles away. But the Las Vegas Sun reports residents who live close to Yucca Mountain are split on whether storing approximately 70,000 tons of nuclear waste there is a good idea. Spanning more than 18,000 square miles, Nye County is the largest county by area in Nevada, with a population of 44,200 people. Some see the proposed repository as a potential bringer of economic development and jobs to a county where nearly 19% of residents live below the poverty line. Others say the environmental and human health risks of transporting and storing the nation's most radioactive material are too high, and unjust, considering that Nevada doesn't produce nuclear energy.

New Hampshire

Manchester: The family of a video game pioneer from the city has started a scholarship fund. The Ralph H. and Dena W. Baer Scholarship Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation will help students from Manchester Central High School who want to study in technology-related fields. Ralph Baer created both the precursor to "Pong" and the electronic memory game Simon, and he led the team that developed the first home video game console. His work as chief engineer for Sanders Associates, now BAE Systems, led to The Brown Box, a console that connected to a television that was licensed by Magnavox in the early 1970s. Baer's basement lab has been recreated at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Earlier this month, a sculpture of Baer was unveiled in Arms Park.

New Jersey

Teaneck: A small migratory bird has found an unusual place to make her nest – near the south goal of an artificial turf soccer field in the township's busiest park. The killdeer, a brown bird with bands of white and black, laid its eggs about two weeks ago on a patch of synthetic grass at Votee Park. Although the killdeer is not a threatened species, the birds are protected under the American Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Canadian Migratory Birds Convention Act. When the clutch of white and brown speckled eggs was discovered, township workers asked state officials for guidance. They were told it would likely take a couple of months to get a permit to move the nest. "We thought, let's just accommodate this little situation," Councilman Jim Dunleavy said. "Teams have been told they have to stay away from the soccer field until nature takes its course."

New Mexico

Santa Fe: More than 101,000 public school students will gain access to a variety of extended learning opportunities beyond the traditional school year starting this summer, Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo announced Friday. Reforms approved and signed in April by first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham provided up to $181 million in annual spending for two programs – money that won't be nearly exhausted during the coming school year. About $76 million has been awarded to schools. One program is a flexible 10-day addition of learning time to the school year at any grade level, likely to reach some 101,000 students. A second program, a proven model for lengthening the elementary school year by five weeks, is expected include about 24,000 students for the coming school year, up from 18,000.

New York

Watkins Glen: Organizers of the Woodstock 50 festival are signaling progress toward resolving a financial crunch after a falling-out with backer Amplifi Live. The festival announced Friday that investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. has signed on as a financial adviser to pull money together. Meanwhile, organizers say preparations continue. The anniversary event is scheduled Aug. 16-18 in Watkins Glen. Amplifi Live put up $49 million before clashing with organizers over attendance, budget and other issues. Amplifi announced April 29 that it was canceling the festival and took back about $18 million. Organizers retorted the show was still on. They sued Amplifi. A judge ruled Wednesday that Amplifi couldn't singlehandedly cancel the festival but didn't have to put the $18 million back in while the dispute goes to arbitration.

North Carolina

Raleigh: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public to report any sightings of nine-banded armadillos to the agency. Commission biologists are seeking observations to help them determine the range expansion of armadillos in the Tar Heel state. To participate, volunteers who spot an armadillo in the wild should upload and share their photos on the NC Armadillo project, which launched May 17 on the free online platform iNaturalist. Volunteers can upload their photos via a computer at iNaturalist.org, or they can download the free iNaturalist app, available for iPhone and Android. They can also send their armadillo observations to armadillo@ncwildlife.org. The email should include a photo of the armadillo and when and where it was observed, preferably by GPS coordinates.

North Dakota

Fargo: A red panda who escaped his compound at a zoo has been found, grooming himself in a tree outside the facility. Sheffield the red panda was reported missing from the Red River Zoo in Fargo on Thursday. KFGO reports he was found a day later perched in a tree near the zoo. Workers lured him from the tree with food and restored him to his home in the zoo. The red panda is an endangered species. Officials say more than 25% of Chinese red pandas found in zoos across the country were born at the Fargo zoo.

Ohio

Cambridge: What's 4 feet tall, 125 pounds and covered in hair? No, it's not Cousin Itt of the Addams Family. It's Hoss, the giant ball of human hair. Hoss, named after Dan Blocker's character from "Bonanza," is an oblong creation from the donations of hundreds of people, so its exterior is an ever-changing mess of different colors and textures. The hair ball was created by Steve Warden, a hairstylist from Cambridge, who began crafting it after years of conversations with his four children about trying to get into the "Ripley's Believe It or Not" book. Once the ball reached the enormous weight of 97 pounds, Warden reached out to Ripley's to donate his masterpiece last year. Kurtis Moellmann, exhibit and interactive coordinator for Ripley's, says Warden's hair ball has quickly become one of the company's most popular items.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: The state House, Senate and governor's office each received huge funding boosts under the state's new spending plan, including a more than doubling of the governor's budget. Budget documents released Friday show new Gov. Kevin Stitt will receive a $2 million increase, a 121% increase over last year's spending level. While most state agencies received an average increase of 5%, the Senate budget increased by 25%, and the House received a nearly 60% boost. The general appropriations bill passed the House on Friday and is scheduled in the Senate this week. Stitt spokeswoman Donelle Harder says the increase is to hire more staff and pay many of the governor's Cabinet members who are currently working without a salary. Harder says some of the increase is a one-time cost for office furniture.

Oregon

Salem: The state Capitol's famous flowering cherry trees are safe. A months­long study to determine whether the trees' roots might be causing damage to the roof of the state's underground parking structure found other causes were to blame. The double row of cherry trees has lined the Capitol Mall since 1991, when the strip was excavated for the 1,200-space underground parking area. Last fall, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services hired a consultant to find the source of leaks in the parking structure. If the results had pointed to the trees, they would have needed to be removed. The consultant determined the main reason for the leaks is that a water-resistant membrane has failed and can't prevent irrigation and storm runoff from entering the structure. The consultant recommended improvements to the storm sewers and irrigation system.

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh: The University of Pittsburgh is getting a spooky addition – the archives of late iconic horror filmmaker George A. Romero. Romero's horror flicks date back to the 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead," and many consider him the godfather of zombie cinema. The university announced the acquisition last week. The archives will be available to scholars, students and filmmakers and include the original annotated "Night of the Living Dead" script and a foam latex zombie head. University officials say the collection will be used to build an international resource for the study of horror and science fiction. Romero came to Pittsburgh in the late 1950s to study graphic art. He launched his career with commercials and shorts, including work for "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."

Rhode Island

East Providence: A skate park has been dedicated to a former professional BMX rider who set a world record for the longest power-assisted bicycle backflip. The Providence Journal reports a skate park in East Providence has been christened the Kevin "K-Rob" Robinson Memorial Skate Park. The 45-year-old East Providence native suffered a stroke and died suddenly in December 2017. His wife, Robin Adams Robinson, attended the dedication ceremony with the couple's three young children. She said the family "couldn't be happier" at the honor. Robinson's nonprofit K-Rob Foundation paid to have the public skate park built at the Onna Moniz-John Neighborhood Park. Robinson earned gold medals in the X Games and retired from competition in 2013. He made his world record, 84-foot jump in Providence in 2016.

South Carolina

Charleston: The College of Charleston has rebranded its 800-plus-acre former plantation to reaffirm its "commitment to diversity, inclusion and community." The college's Board of Trustees voted unanimously last month to support interim President Steve Osborne's recommendation to rename Dixie Plantation as the College of Charleston at Stono Preserve. The Post and Courier reports Osborne said the college had discussed the name change for about a year, and he fully supported the move. The decision comes just two months after Osborne dealt with a walkout by hundreds of students protesting an online video in which some students joked about slavery. He says the incident didn't factor into the name change. Instead, Osborne says the new name better fits with how the college uses the site.

South Dakota

Rapid City: A local man who wrote a book about Congressional Medal of Honor recipients is now opening a museum to honor them. The Rapid City Journal reports John L. Johnson's museum is to open Aug. 1 at the Rushmore Mall. It will have individual plaques for the more than 3,500 people recognized for valor in combat with the nation's highest military honor. Johnson, who works for the public school district, published a book about medal recipients in 2007 that was updated in 2010. He says it's important to remember and honor a part of the nation's military history that he believes is being lost. Museum admission will be free. Johnson is funding the effort through his own money, donations, other fundraising and proceeds from an artist's market he runs in the mall.

Tennessee

Memphis: Cult-favorite musician Tav Falco, who came to Memphis four decades ago to materialize a blues-infused, rockabilly-charged, punk-simpatico and so-called art-damaged brand of musical "conjuration" that has sustained a career of remarkable longevity, returns to the city for a Tuesday night performance at Lafayette's Music Room in Overton Square. The show promotes Falco's latest album, "Cabaret of Daggers," but also recognizes the 40th anniversary of his band, Panther Burns, which debuted its underground sound in 1979. "We're calling the show the '40th Anniversary Howl' because panthers howl; they howl in the night," Falco says. The show will go on despite some recent bad luck: Two weeks ago, a thief or thieves stole Falco's IDs, passport, stage wardrobe, filmmaking equipment and signature 1966 black-painted Höfner electric guitar. Local business owners have helped to replace some of the gear and duds.

Texas

Longview: Actor Matthew McConaughey has finally received his high school diploma, more than 30 years after graduating. McConaughey was given his original diploma Friday night when he returned to his alma mater to address the class of 2019. A Longview High School spokeswoman told the Longview News-Journal that graduates normally receive diploma holders during commencement ceremonies and that the actual diplomas must be picked up later. She said McConaughey never got his. The 49-year-old graduated from Longview in 1988. He responded to receiving his diploma with one word: "proof." McConaughey, who lives in Austin, won an Oscar for his performance in "Dallas Buyers Club." He told the new graduates he'd succeeded because he followed his heart, and they should guard and follow theirs.

Utah

Lehi: At 15 years old, Ethan Blood's Boy Scout sash sports an impressive number of badges. Earning each one required time and dedicated effort, but Ethan has taken on more than ever before with his Eagle Scout project. At first, Ethan thought he would raise a flagpole as a meaningful patriotic gesture. But his local church leader offered up another idea: making a trail that would connect a subdivision in Traverse Mountain, Lehi, to the Ignite Entrepreneurship Academy. The school is only accessible to kids in nearby neighborhoods who walk or whose parents drive them a mile and a half around to the school entrance. The other option is scaling a 50-foot cliff. Ethan has three younger siblings at Ignite and takes pride in knowing his siblings can use the 450-foot trail to get to school safely once it's completed.

Vermont

Montpelier: The Vermont Department of Corrections says the composting of food scraps in the state's prisons keeps 572,000 pounds of food waste out of landfills every year. The Caledonian Record reports the 11,000 pounds of food scraps that are composted each week are used to feed the soil at farms and gardens throughout the state. Bryan Mitofsky, the food service supervisor at the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury, says the kitchen staff has set up an easy system to collect food scraps and separate them from the regular trash. Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker says she hopes the effort of the Department of Corrections inspires others to donate, divert and compost to reduce the volume of material sent to landfills.

Virginia

Richmond: More than 200 women attended a town hall meeting this past weekend to promote women of color running for local and statewide office in the commonwealth. The event Saturday at Virginia Union University was hosted by She the People, a national progressive group. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports speakers included two African American women who are exploring gubernatorial runs: Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat from Richmond, and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat from Prince William. A third African American lawmaker, Del. Charniele Herring, a Democrat from Alexandria, teased a run for attorney general during the event. The lawmakers and advocates discussed issues that affect communities of color and the importance of having women of color to represent those interests.

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park: The 79-room annex at Mount Rainier National Park's Paradise Inn reopened Friday after a $25 million renovation that shuttered it for 19 months, The News Tribune reports. The building is almost a century old and accounts for more than half of the hotel rooms in the park. The renovations brought the building up to seismic code, fixed where the foundation had sunk, installed new fire safety systems, and included electrical and plumbing upgrades. The last time the electrical system was updated was during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration in the 1950s. The park's operations manager, Melinda Simpson, who started working at the inn's pantry in 1973, says she's excited that the floors no longer creak and that the windows all open and have screens that stay put.

West Virginia

Wheeling: Officials say major repairs are planned for the state's oldest bridge. The Intelligencer reports the state Division of Highways plans to rehabilitate the Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge in Wheeling in a $5.8 million project that begins early next year. The 202-year-old span crosses Little Wheeling Creek and has seen major deterioration in its stone masonry since it was built in 1817. Sondra Mullins with the Division of Highways says the work is needed to keep the bridge open for vehicles. The agency says the bridge is "a unique and a rare example of a stone arch that features the elliptical style of arch geometry." Traffic would be detoured while the work is taking place. Officials are hoping to finish repairs in early 2021.

Wisconsin

Milwaukee: The Great American Lobster Fest is coming to the city for the first time Aug. 16-18. The festival is the Midwest's largest lobster and seafood festival and is organized by Chicago-based Green Curtain Events. Organizers will be shipping between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of lobster fresh from the East Coast for Milwaukeeans to enjoy during the festival weekend. "We think there is something special about bringing seafood into the Midwest," said Green Curtain Events owner Nick Pobutsky. "Milwaukee is good proximity to Chicago and fits our vision for expansion for the next five to six years." Milwaukee is the third city to hold the festival. Green Curtain Events hopes to expand it to other Midwestern cities. The fest will have nearly a dozen vendors selling about 20 types of seafood.

Wyoming

Casper: The Wyoming Democratic Party has requested for a prosecutor to investigate allegations of voting difficulties on the Wind River Reservation last year. The Casper Star-Tribune reports the party asked Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun on Wednesday to conduct a formal probe into the possible violations of state elections law. The party says tribal members might have experienced difficulty voting early after an employee at the county clerk's office said they needed valid state driver's licenses. The party says a poll worker also asked voters to read aloud an oath on election procedures, possibly violating a state law banning literacy tests. The Wyoming Secretary of State's office said in a statement that eligible voters were not denied the right.

From staff and wire reports

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