Saturday, June 1, 2019

Good-luck pig, Dollywood expansion, Al Capone: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Good-luck pig, Dollywood expansion, Al Capone: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY


Good-luck pig, Dollywood expansion, Al Capone: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 13 May 2019 10:41 PM PDT

 

Alabama

Montgomery: A group for historians in the state has elected its first African American president after more than 70 years in existence. The Alabama Historical Association has elected Wetumpka native Frazine Taylor as president for the upcoming year. Taylor, who works in the archives department at Alabama State University in Montgomery, was also presented with an award recognizing her contributions to Alabama history. Taylor, chair of the Black Heritage Council of the Alabama Historical Commission is known for her expertise in genealogical research and African American history. She was elected during the association's recent statewide meeting in Tuscaloosa. The organization publishes a quarterly review and oversees a program of roadside historical markers.

 

Alaska

Juneau: State environmental officials have launched the first ambient air quality study in the capital city in more than a decade to determine if air is being affected by cruise ships or other sources. The state will collect data from 21 monitors installed in late April around downtown Juneau, the Juneau Empire reports. The devices use lasers to measure particulate and report online in near-real time. They will remain in place through October. Fine particulate is tiny particles that can be inhaled and at high levels can cause health problems including respiratory illness, aggravated asthma, heart attacks and premature death. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, where people burn wood as an alternative to expensive fuel oil, fine particulate is a perennial winter problem.

 

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park: Scenic State Route 67 will reopen Wednesday in time for the summer season of hikers, backpackers, and tourists visiting the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The area closes from mid-October through mid-May each year because of heavy snowfall, more than 9 feet during an average winter, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. When the national park lodge, campground, visitor center and restaurants reopen toward the end of spring, so does SR 67, the winding 31-mile road lined by pines and aspens that connects Jacobs Lake to the Kaibab Plateau. Only about 10% of Grand Canyon visitors go to the North Rim, but enthusiasts willing to make the extra travel are rewarded with a more intimate experience, says Grand Canyon National Park spokesperson Kris Fister.

 

Arkansas

Ponca: For the fourth year in a row, the Buffalo National River will host a free concert by band National Park Radio, on June 15 at Steel Creek Campground. The modern folk band from Harrison, Arkansas, is known for its hopeful, heartfelt lyrics with themes about life, love and difficult choices, echoing the band's deep-seated roots in the Ozark Mountains. Music will begin at 6 p.m. near the boat launch at Steel Creek Campground. Free parking is available on site, but National Park Service officials advise concertgoers to carpool to minimize traffic and associated resource impacts. The annual event is sponsored by the Buffalo National River Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion, appreciation, preservation and protection of America's first national river.

 

California

Los Angeles: Officials say a planned subway project that will connect three rail lines downtown has been delayed again. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the new completion date for the Regional Connector is mid-March 2022. Rail service is scheduled to begin five months after that. The agency's initial target date was December 2020, but that was delayed by a year in 2017 as officials increased the budget to $1.75 billion. The Los Angeles Times reports Sunday that the latest delay comes as the contractor grapples with labor shortages. The project requires nearly 4 miles of excavation for two tunnels and three subway stations. The twin tunnels are designed to connect three lines into two mega-routes that will allow passengers to ride long distances without changing trains.

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Colorado

Breckenridge: A huge wooden troll has found a new home in this ski town. The Summit Daily reports that the troll has been relocated to a spot behind an ice arena in the south end of Breckenridge. The troll's creator, Danish artist Thomas Dambo, visited the location Friday to affix a heart-shaped stone to the troll's wooden body. It was originally assembled beside a trail last summer for a festival, but it was so popular with visitors that nearby homeowners complained about the crowds. It was taken down in November. The troll, named Isak Heartstone, stands 15 feet high. The site is not open to the public yet. The town is building a trail and surrounding amenities, which are expected to open by early June.

 

Connecticut

Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont has signed legislation that could lead to the production of industrial hemp in the state. The Democrat says the new law will provide farmers an opportunity to "bolster their profits with hemp." He says it will also attract veteran and first-time farmers to a new and growing market. The legislation passed both the state House of Representatives and Senate by unanimous votes. Under the new law, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture is required to establish a pilot program for growing or cultivating industrial hemp. The federal government recently allowed states to grow, use or sell the product, which proponents say has thousands of uses. Connecticut's regulations will ultimately need federal approval.

 

Delaware

Dover: The state House is set to vote on a bill that largely prohibits retailers from providing single-use carryout plastic bags to customers. The bill slated for a vote Tuesday is aimed at cutting down on the amount of plastic bags cluttering landfills, littering roadways and clogging stormwater systems. The bill applies to stores with more than 7,000 square feet of sales space and chain stores with three or more locations having at least 3,000 square feet of sales space. Restaurants are excluded from the bag ban, which also allows exceptions for bags used to wrap meat, fish, flowers or plants or that contain unwrapped food items. You could also still carry a goldfish home from a pet store or your laundry from the dry cleaners in plastic bags.

 

District of Columbia

Washington: The nation's capital has the highest use of drugs in the entire country, according to a new report from the personal finance website Wallethub, WUSA-TV reports. The district scored a 59.95 on a 100-point scale by Wallethub's metrics, ranking as No. 1 for the highest use of drugs and addiction. According to the findings of the report, the District of Columbia also ranked in the top five for highest use of drugs by adults and teenagers. In order to determine which states have the biggest drug problems, WalletHub compared the 50 states and D.C. in three categories: drug use and addiction, law enforcement, and drug health issues and rehab.

 

Florida

Miami: A quiet South Beach neighborhood has become a battleground between preservationists and homeowners who want more freedom over their properties. Residents of leafy Palm View are divided over a push to repeal the area's historic designation, which protects the neighborhood's Mediterranean Revival homes and low-rise apartment buildings from demolition. But it also limits property owners' ability to build more resilient structures, and residents say flooding in the area is getting worse. South Florida is expected to see 1 to 2 feet of sea level rise by 2060, according to a projection from the Southeast Florida Climate Compact. In Palm View, some residents say being able to build newer, more resilient structures has become increasingly important. The neighborhood borders the Collins Canal.

 

Georgia

Atlanta: A group of students from Spelman and Morehouse colleges who've been studying Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming," had a surprise visitor to discuss the work – the former first lady herself. Obama came to Spelman to talk with the students Saturday about the best-selling book ahead of her sold-out appearance Saturday night at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Obama encouraged the 18 students to have faith in themselves, saying she learned through her eight years in the White House and elsewhere that she is as smart and capable as the well-educated and famous leaders she encountered.

 

Hawaii

Honolulu: U.S. lawmakers representing the state want a large-scale study conducted on the impact sunscreen chemicals have on humans and coral reefs around the world. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., last week introduced the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Impact Study Act of 2019, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to study the impacts of the chemicals on human and the environment. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also introduced the act along with the Reef Safe Act of 2019 that would require the Food and Drug Administration to develop standards for the "Reef Safe" designation in over-the-counter sunscreens. Last year, Hawaii enacted a law banning the sale or distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.

 

Idaho

Boise: Two city parks are being renamed to honor Native Americans from the local past. Idaho Press reports the Boise City Council voted unanimously on the name changes last week. Now Quarry View Park will be renamed Eagle Rock Park, and Castle Rock Reserve will be renamed Chief Eagle Eye Reserve. The council also voted unanimously on a resolution that reasserts the city's directives to honor contributing contributions to the area by indigenous people. Eagle Rock is the traditional name of a balancing rock above Quarry View Park, and it's a significant site for tribes in what is now Treasure Valley. Eagle Eye was chief of a band of 70 Weiser Shoshone who moved to the mountains of Idaho secretly in 1878 instead of relocating to a reservation.

 

Illinois

Urbana: The University of Illinois is planning to name its Micro and Nanotechnology Lab after an engineering visionary who created the first practical LED. Professor emeritus Nick Holonyak Jr., a UI engineering alumnus, found a new alloy in 1962 that would emit light in the red segment of the visible spectrum. Energy-saving LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are now universal and used in everything from flashlights and electronics to spacecraft. UI trustees will vote this week on whether to name the UI Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory in Holonyak's honor, the News-Gazette reports. UI College of Engineering officials say very few graduates in UI's 152-year history have had as much influence as the Franklin County native.

 

Indiana

Porter: Indiana Dunes National Park says visitors can reserve campsites, beginning Wednesday. In past years, all 66 sites at Dunewood campground were available on a first-come, first-served basis. Under the new system, 34 sites can be reserved up to six months in advance. The remaining 32 sites will remain first-come, first-served. The price is $25 per night. The campground is open April through October. An online reservation system goes live at 9 a.m. CDT Wednesday. For more information, contact the park's information desk at (219) 395-1882, or visit its website. The park covers 15,000 acres along the southern shore of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana.

 

Iowa

Des Moines: Officials say a dog disease that can be passed to humans has been confirmed in the state. The state veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Kaisand, says several cases of canine brucellosis have been confirmed at a commercial breeding facility for small dogs in Marion County. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says it is notifying people who have custody of the exposed dogs. Both the animals and the facilities are quarantined while the dogs undergo testing. Signs of the disease in a dog include infertility, spontaneous abortions and stillbirths. State health officials say symptoms for humans include fever, sweats, headache, joint pain and weakness. The department says the threat to most pet owners is very low. Dog breeders and veterinary staff may be at higher risk.

 

Kansas

Kansas City: Nurse practitioners are fighting to get rid of the state requirement that they get permission to work from a physician. KCUR-FM reports Kansas is one of the few states that still make advanced practice nurses sign contracts with doctors. Physicians argue the contracts are to protect patients by ensuring that nurses collaborate with their more educated colleagues. But nurses are fighting back against the contracts, which they say limit patient options and can even give doctors a cut of their earnings for little to no work. A bill seeking to drop the collaborative contract requirement died in a legislative maneuver this year. But nurse practitioners hope to try again, offering to make new nurse practitioners work a few years before dropping their contracts with doctors.

 

Kentucky

Louisville: In the past three years, the state has made great strides toward addressing food insecurity in distressed rural communities – and it's become a model for other states looking to try new solutions. Earlier this year, Kentucky hosted the first-ever Summit on Rural Child Hunger, organized by the national No Kid Hungry campaign. The state was selected in part because of its Hunger Initiative, launched by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in 2016. Since it began, the initiative has donated more than 150 refrigerated coolers and freezers to dozens of food pantries statewide; created an economic incentive for summer meal programs, encouraging the purchase of more fruits and vegetables from local farmers; and advocated for the continued funding of the Farm to Food Banks Trust Fund, which awards grants to eligible nonprofit organizations that provide food to low-income Kentuckians.

 

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: A federal judge has conditionally dismissed a lawsuit that claimed three ailing death row inmates in the state were being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment through high heat indexes. The Advocate reports attorneys for the inmates and the state Department of Corrections jointly requested to dismiss the 2013 civil rights lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson ruled in 2016 that cell heat indexes exceeding 88 degrees constitute cruel and unusual punishment, but the ruling was overturned because it defined a maximum heat index. The conditional dismissal requires Louisiana to remain in "substantial compliance" with an agreement it signed last year. That agreement requires the inmates to have daily showers, individual ice containers and fans, water faucets in their cells and other cooling techniques.

 

Maine

Saint George: A state agency has been awarded $1 million to help acquire an island in the state's midcoast area for conservation. The U.S. Department of the Interior's National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grants program is making the money available to help preserve Clark Island in the Saint George area. Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree says the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will work with Maine Coast Heritage Trust on the conservation project. Pingree says the money will be used to buy 168 acres of Clark Island. The acres abut an existing 250-acre state conservation easement in Saint George. Pingree says the preservation of the site will protect habitat for birds and allow for recreational opportunities.

 

Maryland

Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan signed a first-in-the-nation measure Monday to make it easier for people without health insurance to find out if they qualify for low-cost insurance after they file their taxes. The new law will create a box for people to check on state income tax returns. If it's checked, the state's health care exchange will see if the person qualifies for Medicaid, based on information in the tax return, and those who are eligible will be enrolled automatically. The exchange will reach out to people who qualify for private coverage. Hogan, a Republican, highlighted bipartisan work in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly on other health-related measures he signed Monday. One of them raises the smoking age from 18 to 21 and includes vaping in the definition of tobacco products.

 

Massachusetts

Boston: A proposed $2 billion wind farm planned for federal waters off Martha's Vineyard has been awarded a key permit by a state board responsible for reviewing proposed large energy facilities. The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board last week approved requests filed by Vineyard Wind for the construction and operation of the 84-turbine, 800-megawatt wind farm about 14 miles south of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts Coast. Project officials call the permit approval a significant milestone toward the wind farm's construction. In February the project also received a key approval from Rhode Island regulators after the state's Coastal Resources Management Council determined the project is consistent with state policies.

 

Michigan

Dearborn: An exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in suburban Detroit is offering a glimpse into the world of "Star Trek." Titled "Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds," the exhibition runs through Sept. 2 at the museum in Dearborn. It offers a look at more than 100 artifacts and props from the original TV series and its spinoffs. It also explores its enduring impact on culture, from arts and technology to fashion and literature. The traveling exhibition from Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture includes a tricorder, communicator and phaser from the original series. It also features artifacts from the "Star Trek" films and original set pieces, including a navigation console and costumes. The exhibition is a collaboration involving CBS Consumer Products, which manages licensing and merchandizing for the network.

 

Minnesota

Brainerd: A University of Minnesota study links the decline of walleye in Mille Lacs Lake to a loss of habitat resulting from clearer water. Minnesota Public Radio reports the study was published in the journal Ecosphere. Lead author Gretchen Hansen says researchers used 30 years of data on the lake's water clarity and temperature to estimate how walleye habitat has changed. Walleye prefer low light and cooler water. But in recent decades, Mille Lacs' water clarity has increased, most likely due to septic system improvements around the lake and the invasion of zebra mussels. Hansen says that has reduced walleye habitat. The study suggests that altering annual harvest levels based on changing water clarity and temperature could help sustain the walleye population. State officials currently base limits on the estimated number of fish in the lake.

 

Mississippi

Oxford: A local chef has won a major culinary award after five previous nominations. The James Beard Foundation last week named Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford as its 2019 winner for best chef in the foundation's South region. Bhatt tells The Oxford Eagle winning was "just an incredible feeling." He's thanking Oxford restauranteur John Currence, whose City Grocery Restaurant Group owns Snackbar, City Grocery and other restaurants in Oxford. Bhatt also attributes his success to the restaurant's staff. Bhatt has been the lead chef at Snackbar since it opened in 2009.

 

Missouri

St. Louis: A popular animal at the St. Louis Zoo is celebrating a milestone birthday: Merah the Sumatran orangutan is 50 years old. Merah reached the half-century mark Monday. She was born May 13, 1969, at a zoo in the Netherlands. She came to St. Louis in 1992. Merah is a five-time mother, the grandmother of two and great-grandmother of one. The zoo says that when Merah gave birth to Ginger in 2014 at age 45, she became the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Orangutan Species Survival Plan to give birth and rear her offspring. Sumatran, Bornean and Tapanuli orangutan species are classified as critically endangered due to habitat loss. The zoo says fewer than 125,000 orangutans remain in the wild.

 

Montana

Missoula: A vintage plane restored by volunteers has lifted off for the first time in nearly 20 years. The Missoulian reports that the 75-year-old Dakota DC-3 known as Miss Montana flew over Missoula on a test flight Sunday. It was the first time it was airborne since arriving in 2001. Volunteers have been working hard to get the former firefighting plane ready to travel to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Miss Montana is scheduled to participate in a re-enactment of the invasion, including dropping jumpers from Montana. A send-off gala Saturday night raised money to cover its fuel costs.

 

Nebraska

Omaha: Landowners are seeking new solutions for a phenomenon millions of years old. Tons of sand, sediment and silt – some in dunes as high as 10 feet – have been scattered across the eastern half to two-thirds of the state by flooding in March. In some areas, washed-out cornstalks are 3 to 4 feet deep. Tree limbs are in piles, and topsoil has been washed away. "We have a mountain of sand piled up," Valley farmer Ryan Ueberrhein told the Omaha World-Herald. Sediment from Nebraska's rivers and streams has been deposited on nearby flooded land for millions of years. Now U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension specialists and extension educators are trying to figure out what to do with it. They're racing against the clock because farmers need to plant, and ranchers need grass pastures to graze their cattle.

 

Nevada

Elko: Dozens of volunteers in the state's northeast plan to return to an 80-year-old youth camp site next month to begin a $1 million rebuilding effort in the wake of an explosive wildfire. Elko Lions Club members who've launched a fundraising drive for Camp Lamoille hope to reopen it next year in the rugged Ruby Mountains, where the camp was established by the Boy Scouts of America southeast of Elko in 1939. Ten of the 16 buildings were lost in the fire last fall, including the historic lodge, six A-frame cabins and three storage units. So far, the Lions Club has raised about $343,000 of the estimated total cost of rebuilding through fundraisers, insurance proceeds, and other individual and corporate donations.

 

New Hampshire

Concord: The schedule is set for a weeklong celebration of the Statehouse's bicentennial. While various events have been held in recent years, the formal celebration starts Sunday, June 2, with an opening ceremony, re-enactments of the first Statehouse session in 1819 and tours of the building. On Monday, there will be special roundtable discussions featuring former governors and executive councilors. Tuesday's schedule features the state Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in Representative's Hall and an event highlighting the history of the Statehouse press corps. Wednesday is devoted to the state's cultural heritage and arts, while Thursday will be Homecoming Day for former lawmakers. A "New Hampshire Made" street market Friday and closing ceremonies Saturday round out the celebrations the first week in June.

 

New Jersey

Palmyra: The sighting of an invasive spotted lanternfly at Palmyra Cove in Burlington County has brought attention from the state and U.S. agriculture departments. After one of the insects was spotted in November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed up with an inspection, finding and removing a spotted lanterfly egg mass on a perimeter trail, says Kristina Merola, director of natural sciences and park manager at Palmyra Cove. This month, as the insects' hatching season approaches, crews from the NJDA began working in Palmyra Cove, the vast labyrinth of wetlands and woodlands beneath the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. They're marking Ailanthus trees, which are a crucial host for the spotted lanterfly species. State crews are then treating the trees with herbicide, Merola says. The intruding bugs pose a threat to entire agricultural industries.

 

New Mexico

Carlsbad: School districts have become increasingly reliant on substitutes as they contend with a growing number vacant teaching positions in the state. Districts needing to fill vacancies have turned to hiring substitute teachers, particularly long-term substitutes. Some of those substitutes have spent years in a classroom as temporary educators. School district leaders say it's a necessary step as they deal with hundreds of vacant positions across the state. Still, they express concerns about the challenges that come with hiring substitute teachers who typically are not certified and do not build lesson plans or meet with parents. A New Mexico State University report says the state had about 740 vacant teaching positions last year, more than double the 300 vacancies reported in 2017.

 

New York

New York: Lady Liberty is ready to reveal the biggest upgrade to her island home since she first raised her torch in 1886. More than two years after breaking ground, and funded by a $100 million public campaign, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens Thursday. The 26,000-square-foot museum, loaded with historic relics and interactive exhibits, rises uphill from the central pedestrian mall on Liberty Island, which receives some 4.5 million visitors annually. Built on the New Jersey-facing side of the island, terraced steps, made of the same Stony Creek granite used to build the statue base, lead to a 14,000-square-foot green roof, seeded with native grasses. From there, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Upper Bay between New York and New Jersey and, of course, Lady Liberty herself.

 

North Carolina

Raleigh: The Carolina Hurricanes have been rolling at home ever since their newly acquired grunter named Hamilton started hogging the corner. Not defenseman Dougie Hamilton – Hamilton the pig. The 90-pound Juliana potbelly who catches games from behind the boards in a personalized wagon has shown plenty of chops during his three-week run as the team's unofficial good-luck charm. In the land of pulled pork barbecue, this pig pulls for the Hurricanes. "He's like this little internet sensation that caught on," says his owner, Raleigh real estate broker Kyle Eckenrode. "People just love it when we bring him out. It's really crazy to watch it all unfold." The Hurricanes can't argue with the results: Ever since Hamilton began hanging out, the players haven't lost with their prized pig in the building.

 

North Dakota

Bismarck: The Capitol will soon welcome its visitors with a new public entrance. The Bismarck Tribune reports that state lawmakers have approved $2 million to remodel the Capitol building's only public entrance before the next legislative session in January 2021. The entrance is accessed through a tunnel that's long been closed to vehicle traffic. Sen. Ray Holmberg says the tunnel would cause winter winds and extreme cold to seep into the Capitol's ground floor. The state's facilities management director, John Boyle, says the plan calls for enclosing the tunnel and converting drive lanes into sidewalks with landscaping. Boyle says the remodel would also improve handicapped accessibility. Boyle says the changes will make it an "easier, user-friendly experience for people coming to the Capitol."

 

Ohio

New Concord: The John and Annie Glenn Museum will be dedicated as a site on the National Register of Historic Places this month in the late astronaut's hometown of New Concord. The museum, which was John Glenn's boyhood home, will be dedicated in a ceremony Sunday in the Muskingum County village roughly 70 miles east of Columbus. The Glenns' daughter, Lyn, will help dedicate the property. The former U.S. senator was born in Cambridge and moved to New Concord with his family in 1923. He was the first American to orbit the Earth and served 24 years as a Democrat in the Senate. The museum has also been designated an Ohio historic site and is on the National Park Service's Register of Historic Places.

 

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: A state investigator says cattle rustling is on the rise. The lead agent for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture's criminal investigation unit tells The Journal Record that the number of cattle reported stolen through March has already surpassed all of 2018. That comes to 1,210 stolen in the first three months of the year compared to 975 in 2018. Investigator Jerry Flowers says the state often works with federal agencies. In a recent case, that has included the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs because the stolen cattle was on property north of El Reno that is under the jurisdiction of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Nations.

 

Oregon

Salem: The sergeant at arms of the state Senate had a new regular duty in recent days: searching the Capitol for Republican senators who have been staying away and brought the legislative body's business to a halt. The tactic by the minority party is rare in Oregon but has been used throughout history, sometimes creating comical scenes. In Washington three decades ago, U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., was carried feet-first into the Senate chamber after Democrats ordered the arrest of Republican senators who were denying a quorum. The Oregon standoff ended on its fifth day Monday. It had been caused by GOP senators' anger at a bill that raises taxes on some businesses to fund education. After the Senate finally convened Monday afternoon, it passed the measure. To get the Republicans to return, Democrats, who hold a supermajority, agreed not to advance a measure requiring vaccinations for children to attend public schools. They also agreed to drop gun-control legislation.

 

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia: For 20 years, visitors to Eastern State Penitentiary got a glimpse of how Al Capone may have lived while incarcerated there in 1929. But a new installation at the former prison, now a historic museum, reveals something new – that Capone had a cellmate. Capone's solo cell was for decades based on a newspaper account in the Public Ledger that described a "beautiful rug of soft colors," refined wood furniture, "tasteful paintings" and a cabinet-style radio that played waltzes. The exact cell to house America's most famous gangster, in what was once the world's most famous prison, remains a guess. As part of ongoing preservation, the history museum "moved" Capone one cell over, giving the bootlegger a more historically accurate exhibit that finds him in less fancy digs, which he shares with a cellmate. The original cell on exhibit is left empty. Visitors can tour both spaces.

 

Rhode Island

Providence: Lawmakers are considering a bill to waive state college application fees for veterans. Democratic state Sen. Walter Felag introduced the measure, which passed the Senate Wednesday and was referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. It would authorize state higher education institutions to waive application and transcript fees for veterans. It states that the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education should encourage the presidents of the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island to do so. Felag says it's just one way to express gratitude for veterans' service to the country and make their lives easier after they return home.

 

South Carolina

Charleston: A program to prevent former inmates from returning to prison has launched in the Lowcountry. WCIV-TV reports Project Evolution Inc. kicked off Friday. The program helps teach former inmates basic technology and job skills and also helps them build resumes and train for job interviews. The program begin in 2015 in Washington, D.C. Founder Barbara Magwood says she's helped about 200 former inmates readjust to life without bars and to stay out of jail. South Carolina Department of Corrections data from 2015 shows 22.3% of inmates return to jail within three years. Magwood says through encouragement, the program is able to show ex-inmates that there's hope after prison. Elder Walter Jackson, pastor of Greater Refuge Temple in Charleston, says his church is providing program volunteers to facilitate skills training.

 

South Dakota

Spearfish: A study shows that the population of a bird listed as a threatened species in the state is stable in the Spearfish and Whitewood creek watersheds but not expanding. American dippers can be found throughout the West, but the Black Hills is the farthest east the species is located, and that population also is genetically different from others. The Black Hills Pioneer reports Bird Conservancy of the Rockies biologist Nancy Drilling last year surveyed the Bear Butte, Elk, Box Elder, French and Rapid creeks. She says the results are similar to what was found in the early 2000s. The American dipper has been listed as threatened in South Dakota since 1996. The state wants a self-sustaining population in a third watershed before the bird is removed from the list.

 

Tennessee

Pigeon Forge: Dollywood has expanded with a newly opened land inspired by the magic of nature. Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion yet of Dolly Parton's amusement park, opened its gates to guests for the first time Friday. The $37 million area has 11 themed attractions and sits adjacent to the Pigeon Forge theme park's Timber Canyon area. Wildwood Grove features trees and plants native to East Tennessee. The new land's story also connects to the area and features a young girl who discovers and touches the Wildwood Tree, and it opens her eyes and mind to everything around her. Wildwood Grove's 11 themed attractions range from a new roller coaster to a restaurant with Southwestern cuisine. Butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and fireflies factor heavily into the imagery of the rides and decor.

 

Texas

Corpus Christi: The Texas Historical Commission has approved $150,000 to help with the "stabilization and ultimate reuse" of a historic 1914 courthouse. The commission awarded Nueces County funding for the project through a National Park Service grant, according to a release from the commission. The $12.3 million grant is meant to help historic properties in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Nueces County leaders have long grappled with how to save the historic building that sits in downtown Corpus Christi. In March, commissioners voted to reject an offer from the Ed Rachal Foundation to purchase the building and the property on which it sits.

 

Utah

St. George: Federal officials and environmentalists are joining efforts to boost protection for a rare poppy that is only found in southern Utah. The Spectrum & Daily News reports that the U.S. forest Service, Utah Valley University and The Nature Conservancy are examining how to manage the dwarf bear-poppy or bearclaw poppy, which has been on the decline for the past 40 years. The flower was first put on the federally endangered species list in 1979. Experts say it can only blossom in specific geological conditions. Those conditions, which include gypsum soil, can be found in the St. George area. The Nature Conservancy established the 800-acre White Dome Nature Preserve that protects most of the habitat occupied by the poppy. Researchers have been using a drone to study the flowers.

 

Vermont

Montpelier: The state has joined a handful of counterparts in renaming Columbus Day to honor Native Americans. Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill May 6 recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day. A half-dozen states and several cities have made the change. Native American tribes and others say celebrating Italian explorer Christopher Columbus ignores the effect that the European arrival in the Americas had on the native peoples. They suffered violence, disease, enslavement, racism and exploitation at the hands of the settlers. Vermont's law states that "Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors."

 

Virginia

Chincoteague: A new walking and bicycle trail connecting Chincoteague and Assateague islands will be named after former longtime Mayor Jack Tarr. The trail will connect downtown Chincoteague with the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague. The Chincoteague Town Council voted last week to name the new trail network the "John H. Tarr Bay to the Beach Trail." Councilman Eddie Lewis suggested naming the trail after Tarr, and Councilwoman Ellen Richardson recommended "Bay to the Beach." Lewis made a motion combining the two ideas, which was seconded by Denise Bowden and approved unanimously. Earlier this year, the town solicited ideas for naming the trail via the town's website and Facebook page. More than 40 potential names were submitted for consideration.

 

Washington

Westport: A big rebound in the sea lion population along the West Coast in recent years has created a constant battle to wrangle the protected animals. They're smart and fun to watch from a safe distance – but also noisy, smelly and proving to be a headache for some coastal marinas. "It's a free zoo, kind of; just don't pet 'em!" said Dennis Craig of Olympia as he watched a pier at Westport Marina nearly sink under the weight of dozens of burly bulls jostling and snoozing in the sun. The flip side of these flippered fish fiends can be seen in the mounting bill to the marina, including the cost of busted docks, broken electric stanchions and lost business. "Nearly all of our net revenue was used to repair damage caused by sea lions this year," Westport Marina business manager Molly Bold said in an email.

 

West Virginia

Charleston: A West Virginia University researcher is seeking funding to study whether using fentanyl testing strips changes the behavior of drug users, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid increasingly involved in drug-related deaths. Some harm reduction programs use the strips to warn drug users of the presence of fentanyl in other illicit substances. Dr. Judith Feinberg, a professor at the WVU School of Medicine, told the paper people might be safer knowing there is fentanyl in their drugs. But people could also use the strips to seek out dangerous drug doses. Feinberg and researcher Jon Zibbel are asking the National Institute on Drug Abuse to fund the research. They plan to study harm reduction programs at Milan Puskar Health Right, in Morgantown, and a program in North Carolina.

 

Wisconsin

Madison: More people are dying in Wisconsin, but the state's growing elderly population is living longer. Those are two findings of the annual death report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The latest report released Monday looks at deaths in 2017. It found that deaths were up 15% compared with a decade ago. But the death rate for people age 65 and older decreased by 10% over 10 years. The top three causes of death in 2017 were heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury. Overall, the rates of death from cancer and heart disease both declined. But deaths from falls were up 3%, and poisonings were up 13%. Poisoning accounts for 30% of all unintentional injuries, second only to falls at 42%.

 

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park: A noisy geyser in Yellowstone National Park has roared back to life after three years of quiet. Ledge Geyser is one of the biggest in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin. The Billings Gazette reports the geyser shoots hot water at an angle up to 125 feet high and a distance of 220 feet. Yellowstone geologist Jeff Hungerford says Ledge Geyser is noisy because its water and steam must pass through a narrow opening in the ground. Yellowstone has 1,300 thermal features and 500 geysers, more than anywhere else on Earth. Some geysers such as Old Faithful are predictable, but most, like Ledge Geyser, erupt erratically.

From staff and wire reports

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