Hemingway champ, tribal powwow, ‘baby box’ salvation: News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: Alabama’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.6% in June, marking the third straight month with a record low for the state. The rate, which dropped one-tenth of a percentage point from May, represented 60,388 people without jobs statewide, a record low, according to a statement by Gov. Kay Ivey. More than 2.2 million people were working in the state, an increase of about 5,300 from a month earlier.


Juneau: Gov. Mike Dunleavy is expected this week to sign legislation to formally recognize tribes in the state. The Alaska Federation of Natives announced the bill signing would take place Thursday. Shannon Mason, a Dunleavy spokesperson, confirmed the timing. The measure, from state Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, passed the Legislature in May. Supporters of the bill have called it an overdue step that would create opportunities for the state and tribes to work together. The Alaska Federation of Natives said the measure “does not impact the existing legal status of Alaska Tribes, nor does it change the state’s responsibility or authority. However, it does recognize Alaska’s Indigenous people. This recognition will help unify our tribal governments with the state government.”


Phoenix: A judge has dismissed Gov. Doug Ducey’s lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s demands the state stop sending millions in federal COVID-19 relief money to schools that don’t have mask requirements or that close because of COVID-19 outbreaks. The state filed the lawsuit earlier this year after the U.S. Treasury Department demanded Ducey either restructure the $163 million program to eliminate restrictions it said undermine public health recommendations or face a repayment demand. The Treasury Department also wanted changes to a $10 million program Ducey created that gives private school tuition money to parents if their children’s schools have mask mandates.


Little Rock: Lawmakers took back the authority they gave for the state to distribute about $460 million in remaining federal COVID-19 relief funds to school districts, saying they want schools to use the money for teacher and staff bonuses. The move faced opposition from Democrats who said it was an effort to avoid considering raising teacher salaries while the state sits on a $1.6 billion surplus. It was also criticized by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said lawmakers didn’t have authority to take such a step. The Legislative Council voted to rescind the appropriation for the federal funds, and recommended schools use the money for bonuses. The council said the districts’ plans for spending the money will now have to go before a legislative panel. The council recommended districts use the funds to provide $5,000 one-time bonuses to teachers and $2,500 to staff.


A helicopter drops water while battling a wildfire in Mariposa County in northern California on Sunday.

A helicopter drops water while battling a wildfire in Mariposa County in northern California on Sunday.

JerseydaleA destructive wildfire near Yosemite National Park burned out of control through tinder-dry forest on Sunday and had grown into one of California’s largest blazes of the year, forcing thousands of residents to flee remote mountain communities. About 2,000 firefighters battled the fire, along with aircraft and bulldozers, facing tough conditions that includes steep terrain, sweltering temperatures and low humidity, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Crews on the ground protected homes as air tankers dropped retardant on 50-foot flames racing along ridgetops east of the small community of Jerseydale. Light winds blew embers ahead into tree branches “and because it’s so dry, it’s easy for the spot fires to get established and that’s what fuels the growth,” Fouts said. The fire erupted Friday southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County. Officials described “explosive fire behavior” on Saturday as flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades. By Sunday the blaze had consumed more than 22 square miles of forest land, with no containment, Cal Fire said. The cause was under investigation. Evacuations were in place for more than 6,000 people living across a several-mile span of the sparsely populated area in the Sierra Nevada foothills, though a handful of residents defied the orders and stayed behind, said Adrienne Freeman with the U.S. Forest Service.


Fort Collins: The West Nile virus was detected in trapped mosquitoes in the southeast and southwest parts of the city, the Larimer County health department said in a news release. As of Tuesday, there are no human cases of West Nile virus, the health department. In humans, West Nile symptoms can range from none to severe (fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, aches, rash and headaches) and appear three to 14 days after infection, the health department said. One percent of people might develop a serious, neuroinvasive form of the disease, said Dr. Paul Mayer, medical officer with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. Larimer County began monitoring for West Nile virus in early June. Monitoring is done through a partnership with the cities in Larimer County, Vector Disease Control International and Colorado State University. The peak West Nile season is generally in July and August. For tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, visit larimer.gov/westnile.


Hartford: Officials have begun rolling out a wide-ranging new law aimed at reducing vehicle emissions, including adding 10 more electric vehicles that will now be eligible for the state’s rebate program. The legislation, which increases funding for the initiative, raises the MSRP cap for eligible purchased and leased battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles to $50,000. In turn, state residents who meet certain income requirements can qualify for up to $9,500 in incentives, depending on the type of vehicle. The new law will also usher in the state’s first electric bike voucher program. Dykes said the first public meeting was held this week to gather input on how to design the initiative. Additionally, the state agency has begun crafting a plan for distributing $20 million for electric school buses – spending that’s expected to trigger federal funding, as well. Meanwhile, the state is making up to $4 million available to public and private entities to purchase and install light-duty charting stations. The funding came from a 2018 settlement between the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Volkswagen for violations of the Clean Air Act.


Wilmington: Members of the local Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe gathered with other Indigenous peoples from the region to hold a powwow in the atrium of the Delaware Art Museum. Non-native people were invited to attend and, in some cases, participate in the cultural celebration. They were also encouraged to support local Indigenous artists who came to sell jewelry, shawls, bags and even bows and arrows. “This is not something to exploit,” said Iz Balleto, community engagement specialist at the museum. “We just wanted to build that bridge with the tribes that have been forgotten here in Delaware.” Social powwows are important to Indigenous peoples, Nanticoke Chief Natosha Carmine said. They’re an opportunity to see family and friends, as well as to provide education on their tribe’s history and customs.

District of Columbia

Washington: DC Health said appointments have been made available to 5,500 people on a waiting list for the monkeypox vaccine, WUSA-TV reported. Before that announcement, DC Health said it received 8,300 doses of the JYENNOS vaccine and administered approximately 2,600. “Individuals will have 48 hours to claim their appointment,” DC Health tweeted at 10:14 a.m. Saturday. “Residents who did not receive an appointment invitation (last) week will stay in the system until an appointment becomes available.” According to CDC data last updated on Friday, there are 110 monkeypox cases in D.C., the highest number per capita in the U.S. D.C. makes up about 6% of the monkeypox cases across the United States, averaging about eight new cases a day.


Key West: Jon Auvil defeated 124 other contestants Saturday night to win the annual Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the Key West establishment where the author was a regular patron during his decadelong residence on the island in the 1930s. The look-a-like contest is a highlight of Key West’s annual Hemingway Days celebration, which ended Sunday. Auvil said he shares Hemingway’s passion for fishing, has written some fiction and would like to do more writing. “Every man wants to write like Hemingway,” said Auvil, who lives in Dade City, Florida, northeast of Tampa. While living in Key West, Hemingway wrote classics, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not.”


Savannah: Police are investigating a late-night vehicle accident at Ellis Square that injured five people Saturday. A few minutes before 8 p.m., an elderly man accidentally drove his four-door Ford F-150 truck onto the square, police said. About 9 p.m., police arrived at the scene and found five people injured – two adult pedestrians with serious injuries and two juveniles with nonlife-threatening injuries. One person refused emergency services care. The four injured people were transported to Memorial University Medical Center, according to Chatham Emergency Services. Ellis Square is a popular spot for both tourists and residents visiting the restaurants, bars and clubs along City Market and Congress Street.


Honolulu: An active-duty U.S. Marine accused in the stabbing death of his wife is in custody and facing a second-degree murder charge. The Honolulu Police Department said Saturday that Bryant Tejeda-Castillo was being held on $1 million bail. Police said he was captured shortly after the Wednesday killing of 27-year-old Dana Alotaibi along a freeway. Police said he was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu with what one witness said were several self-inflicted wounds. Alotaibi’s friends said she was pregnant, but police said they are awaiting autopsy results. A police spokesman on Saturday said he didn’t know if Tejeda-Castillo remained at the hospital or had been transferred elsewhere. Tejeda-Castillo was arrested on a warrant of second-degree murder.


Boise: The state will spend $1 million to fight illegal fentanyl use and resulting overdose deaths, Gov. Brad Little said. The Republican governor said he will likely recommend additional money in his budget that will be considered by lawmakers early next year. But he said urgent action is needed now for the fentanyl problem that law enforcement officials said can spur property crimes, as well as crimes against individuals. The money will be used for testing equipment to increase the ability of police to find fentanyl. It will also be used for a media campaign to alert Idaho residents to the dangers of fentanyl, a cheap but potent synthetic opioid that has been behind a major increase in overdose deaths in the U.S. It has been increasingly cut into other drugs, often without the buyers’ knowledge, leading to overdose deaths. As little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal. The drug is 100 times more potent than morphine.


Naperville: The National Weather Service confirmed a small tornado touched down in suburban Chicago. Snapped trees and minor damage to roofs in Naperville were reported Saturday, meteorologist Todd Kluber said. The tornado touched down about 5:40 a.m. and was part of thunderstorms that rolled through the Chicago area overnight. Wind gusts reached 58 mph at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Kluber said. Multiple gas leaks in a Naperville commercial building also were reported and about 250 utility customers temporarily lost power, the city said in a release. About a dozen roads were blocked by fallen trees or branches. No injuries were reported.


Indianapolis: Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to be in Indianapolis on Monday for the start of the General Assembly’s special session to debate a near-total ban on abortion. Harris’s office confirmed to the Indianapolis Star on Friday the vice president would “meet with state legislators and leaders to discuss the fight to protect reproductive rights” on the first day of the special session in a roundtable discussion. Senate Republicans have proposed banning abortions in the state, except in cases of rape or incest, when the mother’s life is in danger or when the fetus has a fatal anomaly. Should it pass, it would make Indiana home to one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Seven other states ban abortion at zero weeks.


Urbandale: Hallie Koenigs, a 4-year-old cancer patient from Riceville, was gifted a pink boat in front of the Make-A-Wish Iowa office in Urbandale. Koenigs loves fishing, and goes on a fishing trip every August with her siblings and parents, Allen and Kacie. The project came together with the help of many community members, including a volunteer who traveled to the upper peninsula of Michigan to pick up the boat, Vision Signs, which provided the custom pink vinyl, and Scheels, which provided Hallie with all the fishing gear she would need.


Topeka: The Shawnee County Commission accepted RailWorks Track Services’ $129,000 bid to make repairs and improvements to the Gage Park mini-train tracks, ties and culverts damaged by severe thunderstorms. The money will come from the building maintenance fund. Repairs include railroad ties, spikes, rails, ballasts and soil work.


Frankfort: Gov. Andy Beshear will miss next month’s Fancy Farm picnic for the second straight year. Beshear said in a social media post Friday that he and his wife, first lady Britainy Beshear, will visit Israel in August. The governor said the trip will conflict with the annual political picnic in western Kentucky, which this year falls on Aug. 6. Democrats are expected to be scarce at this year’s picnic, with Republicans dominating most state and federal offices. U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker is the only Democrat who has committed to attend. Kentucky’s two Republican U.S. senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have not yet committed to attending the picnic. Paul is seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate and will face Booker in the fall. The picnic – also known for its barbecue – draws large crowds and is a rite of passage for statewide candidates in Kentucky.


Baton Rouge: Teachers of English, math, science and social studies are eligible for a $7,500 hiring bonus in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district. The move came as the system continues to struggle to staff schools for the upcoming year. On Thursday, the district reported 233 vacant positions, 110 of which were in the core subject areas, The Advocate reported. “This proposal will give us a competitive edge against neighboring parishes offering similar sign-on bonuses,” Nichola Hall, chief human resources officer, wrote in a memo. Hall said the bonus will go only to teachers hired between May 24 and Aug. 5. To be eligible, in addition to teaching in a core subject, the teachers must have a current teaching license and commit in writing to stay with the school system for three years. The parish School Board on Thursday voted 7-1 in favor of the new hiring bonus. The school system is proposing spending almost $1.1 million for the bonuses, which will cover more than 100 teachers. The funding will come from federal COVID-19 relief money.


Portland: A Maine-based sporting goods chain that once had more than 200 stores on the East Coast is shuttering its remaining 35 stores. Olympia Sports confirmed the stores would close by the end of September and that liquidation sales had begun at all locations. Olympia Sports was founded in 1975 by Edward Manganello, who opened his first store at the Maine Mall in South Portland. By 2013, it had 226 locations from Maine to Virginia, the Portland Press Herald reported. Denver-based running and active lifestyle brand JackRabbit bought the company in 2019. JackRabbit, owned by a private equity firm, was sold in December to North Carolina-based Fleet Feet. An email to Fleet Feet on Saturday was not immediately returned.


Annapolis: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he won’t support the GOP gubernatorial nominee, Dan Cox, whom he once again described as a “Q-Anon” whack job.” Hogan blamed the Democratic Governors Association and former President Donald Trump for Cox’s victory in Tuesday’s primary over Kelly Schulz, who was a cabinet secretary in Hogan’s administration. The DGA spent large amounts of money on ads that described Cox as “too conservative for Maryland” and highlighted his connections to Trump – ads that might well have bolstered Cox’s appeal to GOP primary voters. Hogan, who appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” said Cox’s victory is “a win for the Democrats” because Cox has no chance of defeating Democratic nominee Wes Moore in November in a state where Democrats have a huge natural advantage. Although Hogan said he won’t vote for Cox, he said he’s unsure if he will vote for Moore.


Boston: Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is calling for changes in the way the Boston-area public transit system operates after a fire on a train prompted one passenger to jump into a river and others to scramble out of windows. No one was injured Thursday morning when the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s inbound Orange Line train caught fire while on a bridge crossing the Mystic River just north of Boston on approach to the Assembly station in Somerville. The fire appears to have been caused by a metal panel on the train’s base that came loose and touched the electrified third rail, the system’s general manager said. Moulton told WCVB-TV on Friday that “it’s a total embarrassment and “we’ve got to change it.” Moulton, a member of the House transportation committee, said he doesn’t want the federal government to have to take over. The 43-year-old train car that caught fire had been inspected less than a month ago, which included an inspection of the panel that came loose, according to the MBTA. After the fire, the same panel on every other in-service Orange Line car was inspected, and no issues were found, the agency said. The investigation is ongoing.


Grand Rapids: The practice of fingerprinting people without probable cause or a warrant is unconstitutional, the Michigan Supreme Court said Friday. The court unanimously said Grand Rapids police violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. “The fingerprinting of each of the plaintiffs in these cases constituted a physical trespass onto a person’s body, a constitutionally protected area,” Justice Richard Bernstein wrote. The incidents involved two Black teenagers in 2011 and 2012, though the American Civil Liberties Union said photos and fingerprints were taken from thousands of people in Grand Rapids. The city has dropped the practice, but defended fingerprinting as a way to determine someone’s identity when they had no identification. Police also took photos.


Minneapolis: Xcel Energy has started gathering public input on its plan to build one of the state’s largest transmission line projects in recent years. The utility company has proposed building a 140-mile power line that would run from Becker in the north to Lyon County to the south. The $500 million line would connect several new renewable energy projects. “The purpose of this line is to unlock renewable energy from a very renewable rich jurisdiction – wind and solar both,” said Michael Lamb, Xcel’s senior vice president for transmission. If the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves the project, Lamb estimated it would be completed by 2027 to 2028. The regulatory, engineering and construction process for a large new power line is lengthy. This week, Xcel started contacting landowners, local governments, environmental groups and others impacted by the power line to get their input before determining the line’s final route.


Brandon: A park by a central Mississippi reservoir will be named for Bobby Cleveland, a longtime outdoors writer who promoted events there after he retired from journalism. The governing board for the Ross Barnett Reservoir has voted unanimously that Lakeshore Park will become the Bobby Cleveland Park at Lakeshore, the Clarion Ledger reported. “He was a very devoted champion of the reservoir,” general manager John Sigman said of Cleveland. The park is in Rankin County, a few miles northwest of Jackson. Cleveland, 67, died after a traffic accident April 28 as he was leaving the park. His memorial service was held there days later. The Hattiesburg native was well-known in Mississippi for his decades as the outdoors writer for the Clarion Ledger. Cleveland lived near the reservoir and fished in it often. After he left the newspaper in 2012, be became the spokesman for the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, the state agency that manages the reservoir. Sigman said the request to rename the park was presented by the Barnett Reservoir Foundation, an organization for which Cleveland had been secretary.


Columbia: Community members again are urging the City Council to take action on getting the city to use 100% renewable resources for energy production by 2030. The appeal was made last week during a City Council meeting at which the 2022 Columbia Water and Light Renewable Energy Plan report was accepted following a public hearing. A petition with nearly 3,000 signatures was delivered in May to the council requesting it ramp up renewable energy efforts. Among speakers Monday was Carolyn Amparan of the CoMO 100% by 2030 Coalition and the Sierra Club, who helped deliver the petitions in May. “We keep missing the targets,” Amparan said about renewable energy capacity goals by the city. “We shouldn’t just plan to make exactly 15% or 25%.” Other speakers urged the city to negotiate more renewable energy contracts and get out from its coal-powered plant contracts.


Billings: A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Interior Department and its Bureau of Indian Affairs, saying the U.S. is not complying with its treaty obligation to provide adequate law enforcement services on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Billings argued the federal government does not provide enough federal law enforcement officers, drug investigators, missing persons investigators or jail space, even though violent crime has increased on the reservation, The Billings Gazette reported. “Public safety on-reservation is severely compromised due to the lack of meaningful BIA law enforcement presence in our communities,” Northern Cheyenne Tribe President Serena Wetherelt said in a statement. The officers also lack of understanding of tribal and federal law, which leads to suspects not being charged or prosecuted, the lawsuit said. Reports of violent crime on the reservation increased 50% from 2019 to 2020 and does not include crimes that went unreported, the lawsuit said. The Interior Department declined Friday to comment about the lawsuit, spokesperson Tyler Cherry said.


Lincoln: State Attorney General Doug Peterson said he will not file criminal charges against fellow Republican and former state lawmaker Mike Groene over photos the ex-lawmaker surreptitiously took of an aide. There is not enough information from the results of a State Patrol investigation to warrant criminal charges against Groene, a spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said Thursday. Groene, of North Platte, resigned from office earlier this year after acknowledging he photographed his legislative aide in his office without her knowledge. The former staffer, Kristina Konecko, said in a complaint to the Legislature’s Executive Board she discovered the photos on Groene’s laptop, which he had given her to update. She said some of the photos included close-ups of body parts. Groene, a blunt-spoken, often abrasive Republican who clashed with Democratic colleagues, also ended his candidacy to become a University of Nebraska Regent after the scandal came to light.


Las Vegas: The state posted record job numbers last month that showed several key industries have risen above their pre-pandemic employment levels. The record of 1,452,600 jobs was 3,000 more than the previous peak in February 2020. Nevada added 7,600 jobs last month. The employment numbers were announced Friday by Gov. Steve Sisolak, who said in a statement the state had recovered “all of the jobs that were lost during the COVID pandemic, and doing so in a way that has more Nevadans working in better-paying jobs than before the pandemic.” The Las Vegas Review Journal reported the state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which includes casinos, is still lagging behind at 90.7% of its pre-pandemic peak. But other industries have risen above their previous peaks to pull the rest of the state up. Nevada’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% but remains one of the worst in the country.

New Hampshire

Concord: Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed seven bills into law last week, including a Senate bill designed to require health care facilities to implement and maintain workplace violence prevention programs and establish a health care workplace safety commission, according to his office. Lawmakers began working to create the new requirements after the death of a hospital security guard who was assaulted at work in December 2020. Richard Semo, 64, of Farmington died from injuries sustained in an attack in the parking lot of Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The man who attacked him pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in 2021. Sununu held a bill signing Friday outside the hospital. Tim Jones, chief executive officer of Frisbie Memorial Hospital, spoke about Semo. Jones also told the governor that health care workers deal with abuse far too often, and there has been an increase in verbal and physical assaults nationwide during the pandemic, according to the Fosters Daily Democrat. Health facilities that are considered urgent care centers must comply with the new state requirement by July 1, 2024.

New Jersey

Trenton: Gas prices are continuing their summertime slide with double-digit reductions in New Jersey amid a decline in demand and a drop in oil prices. AAA Mid-Atlantic said the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $4.51, down 12 cents from last week. Drivers were paying $3.17 a gallon on average a year ago at this time. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.41, down 16 cents from last week. Drivers were paying $3.15 a gallon on average a year ago at this time. Analysts said “global economic headwinds” are pushing oil prices down and U.S. drivers “are fueling up less despite this being the height of the traditional summer driving season.”

New Mexico

Hobbs: City commissioners took a step toward saving the lives of unwanted newborns at a recent meeting by voting to install a baby box. The vote was spurred by the case of Alexis Avila, who was caught on surveillance camera in early January throwing her infant – who was tied in a plastic bag – into a dumpster behind a retail shopping mall in near-freezing weather. Dumpster divers found the newborn – six hours later, and still alive. Because of that incident, commissioners approved a resolution in support of installing a surrender safety device at Hobbs Fire Station 1, otherwise known as the “Safe Haven Site,” and authorizing the city to seek funding for the installation and maintenance of the device from the state. Commissioners in February had made amendments to the Hobbs Safe Haven for Infants Act, the Hobbs News-Sun reported. Those changes allowed for the surrendering of infants, 90 days or less in age, to be surrendered via a “safety device” or “baby box” without parental fear of criminal prosecution. According to Hobbs Fire Chief Barry Young, the Safe Haven baby box is a much needed asset for Hobbs and surrounding areas.

New York

Rochester: A man accused of attacking GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin during a recent campaign rally told investigators he had been drinking that day and didn’t know who the congressman was, authorities said as the man was arrested on a federal assault charge Saturday. David Jakubonis, 43, made an initial court appearance Saturday before a federal magistrate judge in Rochester on a single count of assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon. The charge carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He was ordered held until a bail hearing in federal court Wednesday. Prosecutors said he should remain detained as a flight risk and is dangerous, according to a court filing. Assistant federal public defender Steven Slawinski, representing Jakubonis, said in an email to The Associated Press he planned to ask the judge to release Jakubonis from custody. Jakubonis was arraigned Friday on a separate state charge of attempted assault in the second degree and was released by a local judge. That prompted criticism from Zeldin and other Republicans who held it up as an example of the need to reform New York’s bail laws, something Zeldin has called upon Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to toughen.

North Carolina

Kenly: The city’s police force has resigned over what it called a hostile work environment. Police Chief Josh Gibson said he and four other officers turned in their two-week notices late Wednesday afternoon, news outlets reported. Gibson said utilities clerk Christy Jones and assistant town manager Sharon Evans also resigned. WRAL reported the police force usually has eight officers, but only had five on the force when the resignations occurred. Gibson, who had been with the department for 21 years, said officers couldn’t perform their duties because of the environment that was created by town manager Justine Jones, who took the job at the beginning of June. In their resignation letters, the employees cited a “hostile,” “toxic” and stressful work environment. Jones declined comment on the resignations. Kenly, with a population of approximately 2,400, is about 45 miles southeast of Raleigh.

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state has renewed its request to throw out a federal lawsuit brought by two Native American tribes that alleged the state’s new legislative map dilutes tribal members’ voting strength. The state said in court papers filed Thursday it denies allegations by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Spirit Lake Tribe. U.S. District Judge Peter Welte dismissed the state’s argument earlier this month that the tribes lacked the standing to sue. The Republican-controlled Legislature during its special session last fall approved a new map of legislative districts, based on updated census data. The map includes new House subdistricts for the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain Indian reservations. Turtle Mountain argued the split House district “packs” tribal members into a single subdistrict on its reservation, while diluting their vote in the nonreservation subdistrict. Spirit Lake alleged the new redistricting map dilutes American Indian voters on and near its reservation. The case could go to trial next year if no resolution is reached, according to court filings.


Columbus: A project to improve electric power capacity is underway on the city’s south side, near the future site of a Google data center. Known as the Parsons Avenue Transmission Project, the endeavor is aimed at improving electrical service for area residents and upcoming development, according to an American Electric Power Outreach Specialist Brian Recker, who added the project will benefit residents and a “future AEP customer” coming to the area, but he would not name the customer. Two substations, one of them new, will be located just north of a $300 million Google data center being built on a portion of the former Hartman Farm, located on the east of South High Street, south of Rathmell Road, west of Parsons Avenue and north of nearby Scioto Downs. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2025 and employ 20 people.


Oklahoma City: Oklahoma County’s $260 million bond package is supposed to help fund a new sheriff’s office in addition to a new jail facility, according to the ballot language and information from county officials, but the sale of the current office is on hold because of contract issues. Financing for the new sheriff’s office came through proceeds from the sale of the current building paired with a portion of the recently passed bond package. District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan said the project won’t affect the ability to finance the new jail because the county will still be able to shift funds around from its general budget once it is able to apply federal COVID-19 relief funds to other projects.


Portland: Portland State University announced a tuition discount for any student from a federally recognized Native American tribe. Starting this fall, students who are members of the country’s nearly 600 federally recognized tribes across the country will receive in-state tuition, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. PSU noted in its announcement that it already offers support for students from Indigenous backgrounds including scholarships, programs and student groups through its Native American Student and Community Center. The discounted tuition will be offered starting this fall term to students who can provide their official tribal residency documentation to PSU. The university does not require any other information to be considered for the discount. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is roughly $420 per credit hour or about $19,000 per academic year for students enrolled in 15 credits, according to PSU.


Harrisburg: A state trooper has been charged with felony animal cruelty after hitting a loose horse with a patrol vehicle multiple times and pinning it to the pavement, where it was then euthanized, authorities said Friday. Cpl. Michael Perillo was suspended without pay after the charges were filed by the state police internal affairs division, officials announced. His bail was set at $50,000 during his arraignment Friday on two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor. It is not known whether he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. A message left Friday for the union that represents troopers, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, was not immediately returned. Perillo responded to a call to police Dec. 28 involving a horse on a highway in Chester County, west of Philadelphia. The horse was on the road’s shoulder in Lower Oxford Township and had been struck by a motorist before troopers were sent, authorities said. Perillo drove a vehicle into the horse multiple times, causing it to fall, and then pinned the horse to the road, authorities said. Another trooper then euthanized it. Perillo, who enlisted in the state police in September 2006, is assigned to Troop J in Avondale.

Rhode Island

Providence: Longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin is naming two politicians who will be leaders on issues affecting Americans with disabilities as he prepares to retire from Congress. Langevin is holding an event Tuesday in Washington to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, speak about the need for accessible transportation and name two new co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. Langevin led the caucus with Republican co-chair and longtime Alaska congressman Don Young, who died in March. Langevin isn’t seeking a 12th term. Langevin, the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, worked to create the caucus shortly after he got to Congress in 2001. Caucus members educate their colleagues and staff on issues affecting Americans with disabilities and their families, and work to ensure access to health care, housing, transportation, employment opportunities and disability benefits. Langevin said he is waiting until the event to announce the names.

South Carolina

Columbia: The U.S. Senate confirmed Adair Ford Boroughs, a former congressional candidate and Columbia lawyer, to become the top federal prosecutor for South Carolina. The Senate approved the nomination by a voice vote of Ford Boroughs on Thursday as the state’s U.S. attorney. After the vote, Ford Boroughs tweeted, “I’m very excited to return to (the) DOJ and to work with an incredible team at the U.S. Attorney’s office.” President Joe Biden nominated Ford Boroughs, 42, for the position in June. Ford Boroughs’ nomination was quickly advanced by a Senate panel on July 14 with just two members – Missouri Republican Josh Hawley and Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn – opposed.

South Dakota

Rapid City: The sister of a St. Louis man who died while hiking in the Badlands of South Dakota said he was camping as part of a trip to celebrate graduating from college and got lost trying to find his way back to his car. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that 22-year-old Maxwell Right collapsed on an unmarked trail in Badlands National Park on Wednesday. He and a friend who was traveling with him had run out of water, according to the tweet. Temperatures in the Badlands had been approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the first half of the week. Right’s sister, Lucille, said the National Park Service told the family that her brother died surrounded by rangers. Authorities have not identified his friend, who the sheriff’s office said was flown to a Rapid City hospital and placed under observation for exposure and dehydration. The sheriff’s office initially said in its tweet that the unmarked trail has been featured in a social media challenge, but later said the men were simply following a trail on a hiking app. Lucille Right said her brother and his friend weren’t taking part in any social media challenge, saying they were on a larger trip to celebrate Maxwell graduating from Missouri S&T and had planned to visit Mt. Rushmore on Wednesday night.


Chattanooga: Four inmates who escaped from the Silverdale Detention Center have been captured, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said. Officers discovered the inmates were missing during a headcount early Saturday in a minimum security housing unit, media outlets reported. The facility was placed on lockdown and officials determined the missing inmates had breached an exterior door and scaled the perimeter barbed wire fence. Two of the inmates, Johnny Bryant and William Atkins, were captured within a few hours at a motel, the sheriff’s office said. Hours after authorities requested the public’s help to locate Justin Lynn Conner and Trevor Lynn Hall, both inmates were taken into custody. Conner was found in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, and Hall was found in Jackson County, Tennessee. Among the charges that Bryant and Atkins face include resisting arrest and felony escape. Conner faces charges that include possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine for resale/manufacturing, use of stolen plates, theft of property, criminal impersonation, theft of property over $2,500 and misdemeanor evading. Hall faces the following charges: contraband in a penal institution, evading arrest, theft of property and felony escape.


Big Bend National Park: Authorities said a 75-year-old Houston man died while hiking alone last week at Big Bend National Park. The body of the man was found Thursday about a half-mile from the start of a trail, according to Park Deputy Superintendent David Elkowitz. The man’s name was not immediately released by authorities. Officials were still trying to determine a cause of death but summer heat at the park can be extreme. On Thursday afternoon, temperatures along the trail where the man’s body was found exceeded 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Officials at the national park in west Texas said hikers need to be mindful of the dangers from the extreme heat and they should be prepared to carry and drink one gallon of water per day and should be off desert trails by noon.


St. George: A wildfire sparked by lightning near the Utah-Nevada border late Thursday grew to nearly 6,000 acres on Friday, driven by winds and dry conditions into Washington County and sending a plume of smoke over much of the surrounding area. The fire was first reported just before 3 p.m. Thursday, about 25 miles southeast of Caliente, Nev. It burned quickly toward the north and the east on Friday, moving into heavier vegetation in the Docs Pass wilderness area, according to the Eastern Nevada Interagency Fire group. No structures or private property were threatened as of late Friday. More than 150 Firefighters were assigned, along with several fire engines, bulldozers and other equipment, with aerial support from multiple heavy air tankers and a helicopter. The fire was 5% contained as of late Friday afternoon.


Burlington: A 42-year-old Nevada man pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington for his role in helping arrange the kidnapping and murder of a Vermont man stemming from a financial dispute. Aron Lee Ethridge is one of four men who have been charged in the kidnapping of Gregory Davis from his Danville home Jan. 6, 2018. Davis was found shot to death in a snowbank the next day. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors and Ethridge’s defense attorney agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 27 years or less. The actual sentence, scheduled for December, will be up to the judge. Ethridge could be sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors said Ethridge arranged for Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado, to kidnap and then kill Davis. Banks allegedly called Ethridge the day after the kidnapping to inform him that Davis had been successfully kidnapped and killed. Banks has only been charged with kidnapping, but prosecutors alleged he killed Davis. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held pending trial.


Richmond: Bodycam videos, police reports and other materials connected to the city’s aggressive response to protesters in June 2020 have been made public through the Library of Virginia. The database that went live recently is part of a legal settlement between the city and plaintiffs who said police used excessive force against protesters who gathered at the Robert E. Lee statue two years ago in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew. The department later apologized and said the use of tear gas was unwarranted. A few days later, the city’s police chief resigned. Thomas H. Roberts, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs, said the archive will allow the public to judge for themselves how police responded. Members of the public will be able to contribute their own footage of what occurred to the archive.


Spokane: Authorities on Sunday issued an excessive heat watch for the Pacific Northwest region for coming days as potential record-breaking temperatures were forecast to settle in and linger until next weekend. Temperatures could break daily records in Seattle and other areas by Tuesday, potentially reaching their highest levels since last year’s heat wave that killed hundreds of people across the Pacific Northwest. Highs ranging from 95 to 110 were forecast for inland areas. An excessive heat watch was issued for central and eastern Washington state and the central Idaho Panhandle from Tuesday morning through Friday night.

West Virginia

Charleston: The state’s Vital Registration Office will be closed for sanitation Monday through Wednesday after staff tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday. The Vital Registration Office is the state’s official repository of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. The state plans to reopen the Charleston office on Thursday, a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources spokesperson said in a news release. Meanwhile, residents can go to their county clerk’s office to access certified copies of birth, death and marriage certificates, state officials said. Records can also be requested by mail or online.


Madison: State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, the leader of the Assembly elections committee, is calling for her colleagues to decertify President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020, a move that prompted her counterpart in the Senate to call for her removal. Brandtjen, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump earlier this year, said Friday she was joining Republican candidate for governor Tim Ramthun’s push to overturn the last presidential election because “tyranny is at Wisconsin’s door.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington has rejected such calls to do so. A spokeswoman for Vos did not answer whether Brandtjen, whom he appointed as chair of the Assembly’s elections committee, should continue to lead the panel. Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, the chair of the Senate’s elections committee, said Brandtjen should be removed or step down from the committee. Bernier said the continued focus on 2020 through such claims hurts voter confidence needlessly.


Cheyenne: Most abortions will become illegal in Wyoming on Wednesday after Gov. Mark Gordon gave the go-ahead Friday under a new state law. The law bans abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother’s life or health, not including psychological conditions. The Wyoming Legislature approved the ban and Gordon signed it into law in March in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. That happened June 24, kicking off a review by Attorney General Bridget Hill to make sure Wyoming’s law conforms to the Supreme Court ruling. Gordon certified the law to the Secretary of State’s Office after Hill completed her almost four-week review Thursday. “I believe that the decision to regulate abortion is properly left to the states,” Gordon said in a statement. “As a pro-life governor, my focus will continue to be on ensuring we are doing all we can to support Wyoming mothers, children and families.” Wyoming currently allows abortions until a fetus can survive outside its mother’s body, generally around 23 weeks. Wyoming has no abortion clinics but the procedure still occurs in other medical settings, with 98 in the state reported to the Wyoming Department of Health in 2021, up from 91 in 2020. The abortion ban will have an “immediate and devastating” effect on those in Wyoming who can become pregnant, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. Organizers of a planned women’s health and abortion clinic in Casper have said they might contest the state abortion ban in court. An arson attack in May delayed the clinic’s expected mid-June opening.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States