St. Patrick’s Day, wild horses, Super Mario Kart: News from around our 50 states – USA TODAY

Drought no more in California, paying panhandlers to clean up in Indiana, and more

  • Montgomery

    Grammy award winners Lalah Hathaway (above) and the Fairfield Four are slated to headline the Equal Justice Initiative’s 30th anniversary concert next month. Alabama-based St. Paul & The Broken Bones, too, are scheduled to perform at the April 29 concert that also marks the first anniversary of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. The grand opening of EJI’s lynching memorial and museum was a star-studded event in 2018, with crowds filling Montgomery for days of panels, lectures and musical events at the Riverwalk Amphitheater. This year’s concert will be held at Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. Tickets, sold through Ticketmaster, range from $50 to $250. In its first year, EJI’s memorial and museum have attracted nearly 350,000 visitors, the organization says.

  • Nikolai

    Social media fans of a rookie Iditarod musher have used their #UglyDogs group to raise money for students at a rural school. KTVA in Anchorage reports Twitter followers of musher Blair Braverman (above) helped raise field-trip funds for students at Top of the Kuskokwim School in the race checkpoint town of Nikolai. The school’s principal tells KTVA that fourth-graders hoping to join a district trip to Anchorage were $4,000 short of their goal. After Braverman posted a link to the televised report, the #UglyDogs site followers raised more than $7,000 in about 24 hours for the students and their chaperones. Braverman says the group name arose after a social media user told her to “go back to your ugly dogs,” and her supporters took up the name.

  • Flagstaff

    The first female superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park resigned Thursday, less than three years after she took the helm of one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Christine Lehnertz’s resignation comes months after she was reassigned amid a federal investigation that cleared her of allegations she created a hostile work environment and wasted park resources. Lehnertz was the park’s first openly gay, female superintendent and the second consecutive Grand Canyon chief to leave under pressure. She started the job in August 2016, tasked with changing what federal investigators said was a pervasive culture of sexual harassment. She has said she was making strides to build a respectful and inclusive workplace by addressing the backlog of misconduct complaints and conducting healing circles.

  • Little Rock

    The Legislature has approved a bill that allows pilot programs to test fully autonomous vehicles on state roads. The measure approved Tuesday will let organizations submit operation and safety plans for up to three autonomous vehicles that would be able to operate on Arkansas roads. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Mathew Pitsch of Fort Smith, says operation and safety plans first must be approved by the state Department of Transportation and law enforcement authorities before autonomous vehicles can be tested. Pitsch says he’s not sure when self-driving cars would be on the roads. The bill, which the Senate approved 27-5, explicitly states autonomous vehicles must be fully capable of driving and reacting as a human driver would.

  • Los Angeles

    The state is free of drought, and only a small amount of territory remains in the lesser condition of abnormal dryness after a very wet winter. The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 93 percent of the state is free of drought or dryness. Tiny areas of abnormal dryness along the Oregon border and in parts of four southern counties amount to less than 7 percent of the state. The Drought Monitor says the conditions in the far south are due to very dry prior years, noting that reservoirs in San Diego County are at only 65 percent of capacity. After heavy snow early this week in Southern California mountains, weather is expected to warm under influence of Santa Ana winds before another storm approaches the state next week.

  • Denver

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set three long-term goals for cleaning up old mining sites in the southwestern part of the state. EPA officials say their goals for the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site include improving water quality in streams, stabilizing mine waste piles to keep more pollution from leaching into waterways, and preventing big releases of tainted water from mine shafts. The Superfund site was established after the EPA inadvertently triggered a massive spill of wastewater from the Gold King Mine in 2015, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with a yellow-orange plume carrying toxic metals. The Gold King is one of 48 mining-related sites in the Superfund cleanup. EPA officials say the goals are preliminary and could change.

  • Hartford

    Some state lawmakers, including the House Speaker, want the General Assembly to consider eliminating a provision in state law that allows parents and guardians to exempt their children from immunizations for religious reasons. Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter of Hartford had pushed for a 2015 law change, requiring parents and guardians who submit statements that immunizations violate their child’s religious beliefs to have those statements “acknowledged” annually by a notary public, justice of the peace or other officials. Ritter said Wednesday that change hasn’t really helped address the problem of a growing number of unvaccinated, kindergarten-age children entering public schools. Ritter says he guesses the vast majority don’t have religious concerns with vaccinations.

  • Dover

    Democratic lawmakers have reintroduced legislation imposing a new tax on drug manufacturers who sell opioid painkillers in the state. The bill is similar to a measure that was introduced last year but failed to get a floor vote. The legislation would impose a per-pill tax on prescription opioids ranging from a few cents to a dollar or more, based on their strength and whether they are brand-name or generic. The tax would be used to create a fund for drug treatment programs and research. Officials estimate that the tax would raise about $8 million over three years. Meanwhile, Delaware and several other states are suing opioid manufacturers for allegedly misleading doctors and consumers about the dangers of their products.

  • Washington

    The Metro is looking for proposals to provide subsidized, on-demand ride-sharing transportation for workers who commute outside normal service hours, WUSA-TV reports. The move comes after a renewed debate over – and then decision against – restoring Metro’s operating hours to pre-2016 levels, when the system was open until midnight on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends. The service would be offered seven days a week for trips within Metro’s service area between midnight and 4 a.m. Metro would pay the first $3 of the fare, with up to a maximum of 10 trips per week per registered rider. The budget for the one-year pilot program in total, according to a release, would be $1 million. Uber and Lyft are among Metro’s stiffest competitors.

  • Tallahassee

    The Legislature has met Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ deadline to hand him a bill to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana after the House passed the legislation Wednesday. While lawmakers aren’t necessarily in favor of allowing medical marijuana to be smoked, they faced the prospects of having it become legal without any restrictions. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but lawmakers banned smokable forms of the plant in a bill signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017. The state was sued over the issue, and a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. Scott appealed, and DeSantis said in late January that the current law doesn’t represent the will of the voters and that he would drop the appeal if lawmakers didn’t repeal the ban by mid-March.

  • Savannah

    Park fountains are gushing with green-dyed water. Beer trucks are making deliveries on a constant loop. And thousands of tourists in gaudy green outfits will soon arrive for Savannah’s biggest celebration of the year. Georgia’s oldest city is gearing up for the South’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend. It’s a 195-year-old tradition started by Irish immigrants to Savannah that has ballooned into one of the region’s most popular street parties after Mardi Gras. The city will hold its parade Saturday, the day before the holiday. Nobody performs any official crowd estimate in Savannah, but parade organizers in the past have figured some of the largest crowds exceeded 500,000. Most of the area’s 16,000 hotel rooms are booked, said Joe Marinelli, president of the city’s tourism bureau.

  • Volcano

    The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 5.5 earthquake has hit the southern flank of Kilauea volcano. The agency reports light to moderate shaking was felt across the Big Island and Maui early Wednesday morning. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanos. It has been quiet for months after an eruption that began last May destroyed more than 700 homes. The geological survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says the quake had “no apparent effect” on Kilauea volcanic activity. The earthquake was centered about 7.5 miles southeast of Kilauea’s summit and was about 4 miles deep. The geological survey says Kilauea’s south flank has had 16 earthquakes of at least magnitude 5.0 in the past 40 years.

  • Boise

    The federal government could pay up to $1,000 to people who adopt wild horses thanks to a new incentive program that aims to reduce the animals’ chronic overpopulation. The Idaho Statesman reports that a release Tuesday from the Bureau of Land Management says adopters can receive $500 within 60 days of purchasing an animal, with an additional $500 available after the animal is titled – one year after the adoption date. The agency estimates there were about 82,000 wild horses and burros in the U.S. in 2018, more than triple the amount the 0.05 million square miles of designated rangeland can support. The release says the incentive program applies only to the thousands of untrained animals taken from the wild.

  • New Berlin

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pushing a multibillion-dollar state building plan. Educators have an idea for how to use it: long-dormant school construction grants. The 20-year-old program provides a state funding match for adding classrooms or replacing obsolete buildings. But it hasn’t been funded for a decade, and 285 school districts have been waiting as long as 15 years for grants. An Associated Press analysis estimates there’s nearly $6 billion in needed construction just among those on the list. New Berlin District 16 didn’t wait for the state grant when it built a $14 million elementary school in 2009. But Superintendent Adam Ehrman says waiting for about $5 million promised from the state has hampered planning for dealing with the district’s outmoded junior-senior high school.

  • Indianapolis

    Come May, the city will start paying panhandlers to pick up litter and perform other beautification services on the very sidewalks where they now ask for help. It’s an idea that draws inspiration from a similar program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that pays 80 to 90 people $9 an hour. Indiana’s capital, working alongside Downtown Indy Inc. and homelessness services center Horizon House, will spend the next six weeks figuring out what Indy’s version of that program will look like. The City-County Council late last month approved $300,000 for the initiative. Half would go toward employing panhandlers, as much as $150,000 would go toward rental assistance, and any money remaining would help boost the Coalition For Homelessness Intervention & Prevention.

  • Des Moines

    Farmland values in the state fell by nearly 3 percent over the past year, in part because of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and other countries, according to a new report. The Iowa Chapter of the Realtors Land Institute found that the 2.7 percent decline occurred despite the federal government’s trade bailout program for farmers hurt by foreign retaliation against Trump’s tariffs, as well as limited land and higher yields in some parts of Iowa. The average farmland value statewide was nearly $6,800 an acre. Trade wars with Canada, China, Mexico and other countries tugged on Iowa’s farmland values, especially last fall, as did tightening cash for operations and higher interest rates, according to the group of farmland managers, brokers, appraisers and other industry workers.

  • Overland Park

    Planning commissioners in this Kansas City suburb approved a proposal this week for a new Islamic center that could serve as a centralized location for Muslims in Missouri and Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports the Overland Park Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the Islamic Center of Kansas’ plan to build a roughly 111,000-square-foot religious facility. The move came after hundreds of residents petitioned for the proposal to be delayed or dismissed. The center’s plans include a mosque, school, day care and banquet hall. Neighbors say the size and scope of the Islamic center make it a bad fit for the area. Many expressed concerns about noise, traffic, and the impact on wildlife and the area’s green space.

  • Whitley City

    The state’s southeastern counties don’t fare well on a recent list ranking the worst U.S. places to live. 24/7 Wall Street recently ranked the top 25 worst counties, based on poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree and average life expectancy at birth. Of the 25, 10 are in Kentucky. Moreover, six of the worst 10 are in the Bluegrass State. McCreary County came in at No. 5, Clay at No. 6, Breathitt at No. 7, Leslie at No. 8, Bell at No. 9, Harlan at No. 10, Knox at No. 16, Martin at No. 20, Jackson at No. 23 and Floyd at No. 25. Nearly every county on the nationwide list falls into one of three categories: counties in Appalachian coal country, Southern counties along or near the Mississippi River, and those that lie within Native American reservations.

  • Monroe

    Some of the world’s greatest athletes are coming to town this weekend to compete in a heated, highly anticipated tournament. Tower Place will host the first ever American Super Mario Kart Championship – or, as self-titled event director Kyle Randol calls it, the Battle on the Bayou. The nearly 30-year-old video game has a loyal following of enthusiasts, as well as professional competitors. Europe hosts an annual competition with nearly 60 players every year, according to Randol, but there was a push to create an American tournament, largely because two versions of the game are available. Since Europe uses a different electrical frequency from North American countries, video games and movies need to be manufactured differently for each continent.

  • Bryant Pond

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson says he’s scuttling plans for a TV studio near his vacation home because of publicity. The Sun Journal newspaper reports Carlson planned to buy an old town garage and transform it into a studio in Bryant Pond. The deal called for him to buy the building for $30,000, he said, while Fox would pay to equip the studio. But Carlson pulled the plug within hours of the news report Wednesday evening. Carlson described himself as “bitter” and “crushed” and called the news report a “total violation of my privacy.” He said Fox wouldn’t leave the equipment in a small, rural studio whose presence is widely known. Carlson told the town that he’s “spent virtually every summer of my life” at nearby Lake Christopher.

  • Laurel

    The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in the state, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program. The Baltimore Sun reports that the federal agency says the last bird has been transferred from the Patuxent Research Refuge. There were fewer than 50 whooping cranes alive when the breeding program began with a one-winged bird named Canus in the 1960s. While still vulnerable, the population is now about 700, thanks to efforts including artificial insemination and biologists dressing in crane costumes while caring for chicks. USGS officials say its breeding research is no longer needed. The whooping cranes have gone to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada.

  • Templeton

    A portion of a highway was shut down while state wildlife officials moved a family of bears that had set up a den in the median. State police shut down a stretch of Route 2 in Templeton on Thursday morning while state environmental police tranquilized the mother bear and relocated her and her cubs to a safer location in a nearby state forest. Authorities say the bears had to be moved as a precaution to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of motorists. Route 2, a four-lane highway, was shut down for about 45 minutes. State police tweeted that “everything went beary well” with the move.

  • Taylor

    When it comes to the middle finger, police might need a thicker skin. A federal appeals court says a woman’s constitutional rights were violated when she was handed a speeding ticket after giving the finger to a suburban Detroit officer in 2017. The decision means a lawsuit by Debra Cruise-Gulyas can proceed. In a 3-0 decision Wednesday, the court said Taylor Officer Matthew Minard “should have known better,” even if the driver was rude. Minard stopped Cruise-Gulyas and wrote her a ticket for a lesser violation. But when that stop was over, Cruise-Gulyas raised her middle finger. Minard pulled her over again and changed the ticket to a more serious speeding offense. Cruise-Gulyas sued, saying her free-speech rights and her rights against unreasonable seizure were violated.

  • St. Paul

    The state Senate has approved expanding a zero-interest disaster loan program for farmers, just in time for producers whose buildings have been damaged by heavy snow this winter. The bill passed the Senate unanimously Thursday. It broadens eligibility for the Disaster Loan Recovery Program run by the state’s Rural Finance Authority. The proposal was one of many that were included in a massive budget bill vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton last year. A similar farm aid bill awaits a vote on the House floor. The bill adds uninsured losses from the weight of snow, sleet or ice to the list of damages covered by the disaster loan program. It would be retroactive to Jan. 1. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says about 75 barns statewide have collapsed this winter.

  • Jackson

    The home of a slain civil rights leader is now the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument. Medgar Evers was a World War II veteran who fought in Europe and returned to his native Mississippi, where he again faced harsh segregation. As the first field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP beginning in 1954, he led voter registration drives and boycotts to push for racial equality. He was assassinated June 12, 1963, outside the family’s modest ranch-style home. Myrlie Evers was national chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998. The federal government will take over the home from Tougaloo College, which supports the change, bringing money for preservation. The Evers family donated the home to historically black Tougaloo in 1993, and it is open by appointment for tours.

  • Jefferson City

    The state Senate is backing an effort that would make it harder to impeach and remove top officials, less than a year after the governor resigned while facing potential impeachment. The proposed constitutional amendment would abolish the grounds for which House members had been weighing whether to impeach former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens (above). It would limit the criteria to “corruption and crime in office.” Had that been in place last year, House members could not have pursued impeachment for allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations that occurred before Greitens took office in January 2017. Greitens resigned June 1, before a House investigatory committee could vote on impeachment.

  • Gardiner

    Officials from Yellowstone National Park and a water district in the state have scheduled a settlement conference over claims of excessive arsenic from the park’s sewage. The Billings Gazette reports that talks are scheduled for May 9 between the park and the Gardiner-Park County Water and Sewer District, with the goal of keeping a lawsuit from reaching trial. A 2016 suit filed by the district says the park did not address complaints that heightened arsenic in Gardiner’s sewage ponds resulted from faulty manholes or pipes delivering wastewater from the park’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs. Wastewater tests found the park’s arsenic levels were 40 times higher than those from Gardiner. Arsenic is prevalent in Yellowstone’s thermal pools and geysers.

  • Kearney

    The entry deadline is March 31 for this year’s Nebraska Handwriting Contest. The contest is aimed at promoting and encouraging good penmanship and is open to state residents in four age categories: 12 and younger, ages 13-16, ages 17-49, and ages 50 and older. It is administered by the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Contestants will be provided text to copy for their entries, which must be written in any of the various styles of cursive handwriting and not printed. Rules and text to be copied are available online. Entries should be mailed to Nebraska Handwriting Contest, Attention: Julie Agard, University of Nebraska at Kearney/Department of Teacher Education, Kearney, NE, 68849.

  • Las Vegas

    A company backed by tech billionaire Elon Musk moved a step closer this week to building tunnels for an express transit system at a massive Vegas convention center despite some local opposition. The board of directors of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted to authorize contract negotiations with Musk-backed enterprise The Boring Co. The project is expected to cost $35 million to $55 million. The authority expects the system to have three or four stations, each situated at entrances to the convention center’s halls. People would be carried in electric vehicles moving through parallel tunnels, each running in one direction. All the vehicles – which could include Teslas – would be fully autonomous and move at up to 50 mph. The system of just over a mile long is expected to debut by January 2021.

  • Concord

    This year’s higher education summit in the state is exploring the issue of mental health on college campuses. Discussion will focus on what programs colleges should offer and enhance to benefit students who may seek counseling and treatment while they are enrolled. Health and education experts will take questions and offer advice. The summit scheduled Friday in Concord at the Grappone Conference Center is aiming to improve enrollment, encourage New Hampshire high school graduates to choose colleges and universities in the state, and deepen connections with area businesses. Education writer Jeff Selingo (above) will give a keynote speech. The summit is co-sponsored by the New Hampshire College & University Council, Campus Compact for New Hampshire, and GEAR UP New Hampshire.

  • Wyckoff

    One way to make a wall popular: Cover it with 3,000 recycled books, and decorate it with a message to encourage student reading. Eighth-grade students at Eisenhower Middle School created a permanent mural that stands 8 feet tall and 23 feet wide. It took four months to build under the direction of art teacher Monique Sarfity. Students removed the paper jackets, glued the books together in small groups, then attached them with brackets to a wall-mounted frame. The mural and its message were traced onto the books using a projector, then filled in by students. Sarfity estimates 75 students were involved over the life of the project. “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are … ” the mural tells students. The unwanted books were donated by several libraries.

  • Albuquerque

    Residents of a Hispanic village near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test plan to return to Washington, D.C., to press Congress about compensation. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders are holding a second annual benefit Sunday in Albuquerque to raise money so members can speak before a congressional committee about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of Tularosa residents. Members of the consortium say many who lived in the area weren’t told about the dangers and were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer. They say they want acknowledgment and compensation from the U.S. government. Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

  • New York

    Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to protect lower Manhattan from rising sea levels by surrounding it with earthen berms and extending its shoreline by as much as 500 feet. The Democratic mayor announced the plan Thursday after previewing it in New York magazine. Officials have been developing schemes to fortify New York City’s waterfront ever since Superstorm Sandy destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in 2012. De Blasio says the city could fortify most of lower Manhattan with grassy berms and removable barriers for about $500 million. But protecting the very lowest-lying areas in the old Seaport District, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Battery, will require adding more land over several years at a cost of up to $10 billion.

  • Raleigh

    The state’s craft beer industry and alcohol wholesalers are raising a glass to what they say is a legislative compromise to allow small, growing brewers to keep control of their product longer. Legislators from both parties and industry representatives announced Thursday an agreement in General Assembly bills filed this week to let breweries sell double the amount of their beer annually on their own compared to what current law allows. Right now third-party distributors take over sales, marketing and pricing once brewers sell over 25,000 barrels. Lawmakers have declined to change the limit, leading to a 2017 lawsuit by two brewers. The number of craft breweries in the state has grown from 45 in 2010 to hundreds today.

  • Bismarck

    The state’s House has endorsed legislation that would charge owners of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles an annual fee. Representatives approved the Senate bill 72-17 on Thursday but with some amendments. It now goes back to the Senate for approval. Backers of the legislation say all vehicles contribute to wear and tear on the state’s roads, and drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles should pay their share. North Dakota is among 30 states that don’t levy a fee for owners of electric vehicles. The legislation says owners of electric vehicles would be charged $120 annually. Plug-in hybrid vehicle owners would pay $50 a year. Owners of electric motorcycles would pay $20 annually. Data show 3,850 hybrids and 141 electric vehicles are registered in the state.

  • Toledo

    Gov. Mike DeWine wants to spend nearly $1 billion on water quality projects to clean up toxic algae in Lake Erie and protect other lakes and rivers throughout the state. The money would come out of this year’s new state budget, which DeWine will reveal Friday, and all of it would be set aside into a fund for water-related initiatives over the next decade. How the money would be spent isn’t known yet, but the Republican governor mentioned building wetlands to filter pollutants and paying farmers to use new methods designed to reduce phosphorus-heavy fertilizer runoff, the biggest contributor to the algae in western Lake Erie. Incentives must be part of the plan “to help farmers so they don’t bear the entire burden of doing this,” DeWine said.

  • Shawnee

    The state’s oldest art gallery is commemorating its 100th birthday with a series of special exhibitions and festivities. The Oklahoman reports the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, located on the former St. Gregory’s University campus (above), is launching its centennial festivities with the exhibition “Celebrating a Century: Treasures from the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art,” featured through March 24. Father Gregory Gerrer, the museum’s namesake, was a Benedictine monk with prominent artistic talent. Gerrer collected a variety of objects with artistic and ethnological value during his travels to Europe, Africa and South America. “Celebrating a Century” will display art and artifacts from cultures from all over the world. The centennial celebration will include a summer exhibit through Sept. 1, followed by autumn festivities.

  • Salem

    The state House of Representatives moved Wednesday to scrub language offensive to LGBTQ residents in a bill that also specifies that sexual orientation is not a physical or mental impairment. The bill passed the House 58-2 and goes to the Senate. Rep. Rob Nosse (above), who is gay, said the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws date back to the 1850s, when Oregon was a territory, and helped put some people into mental hospitals and the state penitentiary for expressing their love or true gender. The laws were enforced until the 1970s, Nosse said. The measure modernizes language referring to transgender people, deleting “transsexualism” and “transvestism” from Oregon’s employment anti-discrimination law. The bill clarifies that sexual orientation isn’t considered a physical or mental impairment.

  • Philadelphia

    Rapper Meek Mill is being honored in his hometown for his work as a criminal justice reform advocate and as a musician. The Philadelphia City Council announced Thursday that “Meek Mill Weekend” will commence Friday. In January, Mill joined Jay-Z and others to form a coalition called the Reform Alliance that lobbies for changes to state probation and parole laws. Mill became a symbol for criminal justice reform activists after a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced him to two to four years in prison for minor violations of his probation conditions in a decade-old gun and drug possession case. He spent months in prison before a court ordered him released. Mill said at Thursday’s announcement that he’s trying to “give young kids a fair shot in the system.”

  • Central Falls

    The city has repealed its youth curfew, which civil liberties advocates said disproportionately affected children of color. The Central Falls City Council voted unanimously to repeal the youth curfew Monday. The curfew was implemented in 2008, making it unlawful for people under 18 to be in a public place between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Parents faced fines if they allowed their kids to violate the curfew. City Council President Maria Rivera says the curfew hasn’t really changed anything in the city. The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island praised the decision to repeal the curfew, saying it didn’t reduce crime. Central Falls Police Chief Col. James Mendonca says community engagement, not the curfew, has led to positive outcomes.

  • Columbia

    The woman who won $878 million in the biggest jackpot payout to one winner in U.S. history wants to share her windfall with the city and state where her good fortune happened. The winner still wishes to remain anonymous because she wants to “live a life of relative normalcy, free of fear,” she said in a statement issued Thursday by her lawyer, Jason Kurland. The winner has already donated money to several charities, including the City of Simpsonville Art Center; the One SC Fund for hurricane relief; the Ronald McDonald House in Columbia; In the Middle, a charity in Columbia helping women undergoing breast cancer treatment; and the Red Cross relief fund for victims of the recent Alabama tornadoes, according to the statement, which didn’t say how much she was donating.

  • Pierre

    Two Native American tribes are asking that their flags not be displayed at the state Capitol after lawmakers approved bills this session aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline. The quick passage of Gov. Kristi Noem’s protest legislation was the breaking point for the tribes. The requests come after Noem said last month that she planned to permanently display the flags of the nine tribes in South Dakota in the Capitol rotunda. Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Chairman Lester Thompson Jr. says the tribe has worked to build a new relationship with the state, but Noem and the Legislature have “destroyed our trust” and the hope of moving toward reconciliation. Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner says the tribe’s flag represents a “commitment to protect Mother Earth.”

  • Nashville

    Environmental officials have added nearly 400 acres to Piney Falls State Natural Area in Rhea County. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced Friday that the acquisition adds to the 440-acre area that includes creeks, waterfalls and old forests. It consists of deep gorges carved from the Little Piney River and Soak Creek Designated State River. The deal transfers the land from The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee to the state with the help of The Tucker Foundation and the Open Space Institute. The additional land could be used to develop trails in the future. The state says the new acres include views of the ridge and valley of the Cumberland Plateau.

  • Corpus Christi

    County leaders have rejected a proposal to buy and demolish a historic courthouse built in 1914 but abandoned years ago and now in disrepair. Nueces County Commissioners on Wednesday refused an offer from the Ed Rachal Foundation to pay $1.5 million in back taxes and other costs to demolish the structure. The old Nueces County Courthouse in Corpus Christi has historic landmark status from the Texas Historical Commission. That means the building can’t be torn down before 2027 and would require legislative or commission action to allow demolition. Texas Historical Commission officials on Wednesday agreed to work with Nueces County to see if state historic preservation tax credits and other incentives could pay to rehabilitate the ex-courthouse. County commissioners are open to finding another potential buyer.

  • Salt Lake City

    Authorities say DNA testing helped them confirm notorious serial killer Ted Bundy (above center) also murdered a northern Utah teen. KSL-TV reports Bountiful Police Sgt. Shane Alexander announced this week that investigators retrieved a human patella bone, or kneecap, over three years ago that authorities had given to the family of Debra Kent. Alexander says DNA testing on the bone confirmed it belonged to Kent. Alexander says the 17-year-old Kent was with her parents at a Viewmont High School play in November 1974, when she left during intermission to pick up her brother at an ice skating rink. Alexander says she left and never returned. Alexander says Bundy, 36 hours before his 1989 execution, confessed to killing Kent and other young women and told police where he left Kent’s body.

  • Danville

    Maple syrup producers are contending with a late start to the season and an abundant squirrel population, with the critters chomping on plastic sap tubing and spouts. Damage from wildlife – deer, bear woodpeckers, and squirrels – is not unusual for maple operations, but this year squirrels are wreaking havoc in some spots. That means producers must go out into sometimes deep snow to find and replace the damaged lines that transport the sap from the maple trees or other chewed equipment, which producers say can be time-consuming and expensive. Ruth Goodrich (above) of Goodrich’s Maple Farm in Danville, in the nation’s largest maple-producing state, says of the squirrels: “Occasionally they declare war. And it seems like they have this year.”

  • Richmond

    Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation to create a pilot program aimed at reducing eviction rates in the state. The legislation is part of a push that began last year after a research group at Princeton University found that five Virginia cities have some of the highest eviction rates in the country. The pilot program will be launched in Richmond, Danville, Hampton and Petersburg. The goal is to reduce evictions in those cities and collect data on the program’s effectiveness to help develop methods for preventing evictions around the state. Last month, Northam signed a package of bills aimed at reducing evictions by giving tenants more time to pay rent and fees ahead of an eviction notice and limiting the number of legal actions a landlord may file.

  • Olympia

    The state Senate has approved a bill that supports states remaining on daylight saving time year-round. The state House recently voted to ask Congress to let Washington skip returning to standard time every fall. The Spokesman-Review reports the state Senate followed with a proposal of its own. But an amendment to the Senate bill also calls for a referendum on the change to be put on the November ballot. Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, the bill’s prime sponsor, says he has been working on avoiding the semiannual clock change for years because studies show there are more accidents, heart attacks and strokes after such a change. The House and Senate now will try to work out a compromise on differences between the two bills before the end of the session April 28.

  • Huntington

    The mayor is resuming his annual neighborhood walks in an effort to motivate residents to become more active. Mayor Steve Williams plans to kick off his “Walks with the Mayor” series Monday in the city’s Westmoreland neighborhood. The city says in a news release that the community walks began in 2015. Williams and police, fire and public works department representatives have since walked through each of the nine city council districts at least seven times. The Huntington area drew widespread attention a decade ago for being at the bottom of more than a half-dozen federal health measures, including residents with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Williams says his walks are a great way to listen to residents’ concerns about improving neighborhoods.

  • Milwaukee

    Swan boats may soon be paddling around Veterans Park lagoon on the city’s lakefront. A County Board of Supervisors committee on Thursday discussed a contract with Funtime LLC, also known as business as Wheel Fun Rentals, for swan paddleboat rentals at the lagoon. Wheel Fun has offered paddleboat rentals at the park since 2013. County parks staff members said one benefit of adding the swan pedal boats to the fleet of existing rentals is that they sit higher in the water than most paddle boats, meaning they would better protect people from algae blooms – including the potentially dangerous blue-green algae – that often develop during warmer weather. The swan boats may arrive as soon as April 1.

  • Cheyenne

    People who have long been critical of a plan to put more cell towers in Grant Teton National Park are getting the opportunity to officially weigh in on the project. Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming seeks thoughts from the public on plans for a new network of cell towers amid questions about how the National Park Service balances public safety with the experience of wilderness. The park currently has two cell towers as part of a system built piecemeal-fashion, with some fiber-optic lines buried without conduit and poorly mapped. The lines are vulnerable to damage, according to a Park Service analysis and proposal for nine additional towers and related equipment. Benefits would include boosting the range where people could call for help, directing visitors to park services and helping retain seasonal workers, according to the Park Service.

https://www.usatoday.com/list/50-States-031519/05863b6a-4be1-47c7-9f3a-046749a25936/