Rodney Smith Jr., founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, looks skyward while talking with homeowner Irene Renee Jolly in Huntsville, Ala. Inspired to provide free lawn care several years ago, Smith says he has now completed a quest to provide free lawn care for veterans in every U.S. state. (Photo: Jay Reeves/AP)
Birmingham: An Alabama man says he has completed his quest to mow lawns for veterans in all 50 states. Rodney Smith Jr. tweeted Friday that he was headed home from Hawaii after cutting grass on Oahu. He got to his last state with help from Delta Air Lines. He says he will now continue providing free lawn care to the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans in Alabama. Smith was inspired to begin a free yard mowing service in 2015 after seeing an elderly man cutting his lawn. That morphed into a mission to cut grass for service veterans in every U.S. state. Smith drove across the country this spring posting photos of himself with veterans as he cut their lawns. Individual and corporate donations helped pay for hotel rooms and other expenses.
A bear walks between a viewing stand and a fisherman in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The new elevated bridge and boardwalk across the Brooks River is expected to halt heart-stopping encounters between human pedestrians and brown bears both using the old floating bridge. (Photo: Mark Thiessen/AP)
Anchorage: The National Park Service has completed a project to relieve an interspecies traffic jam. A new elevated bridge and boardwalk across the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve has replaced a river-level bridge that was often closed to human tourists because it was occupied by locals – brown bears. The replacement for the old floating bridge was more than a decade in the making. Bears catching salmon are a huge draw for the park on the Alaska Peninsula, the arm of land extending from Alaska’s southwest corner toward the Aleutian Islands. The park service estimates 2,200 brown bears inhabit the park, a number exceeding the people who live on the peninsula. The new bridge, which cost $5.6 million, features bear-proof gates on both ends.
Phoenix: A philanthropic arm of Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation has offered to provide legal support for a couple who say police used excessive force and threatened to shoot them in an incident caught on video. Dravon Ames, 22, and his pregnant fiancee, Aisha Harper, 24, were pulled over by Phoenix police May 29. They allege police pointed a gun at their children, threatened them, and physically harmed Ames and their daughter because the child took a doll from a dollar store. The couple is demanding $10 million from the city of Phoenix. A notice of claim filed Thursday says the police officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest and infliction of emotional distress in addition to violating their civil rights. Team ROC has secured high-profile attorney Alex Spiro to join the family’s legal team pro-bono.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)
Little Rock: Long before she became the spokeswoman for the Trump administration, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a well-known figure in the Natural State who appeared in campaign ads for her dad, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and learned about the state’s rough-and-tumble politics by working on his campaign and others. Now, speculation that Sanders may run for governor in her home state shakes up a race that’s three years away but was already expected to be a crowded and expensive fight among Republicans. Trump announced Thursday that Sanders was leaving as White House press secretary and encouraged her to run for Arkansas governor, a job her dad held for 10 1/2 years. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was re-elected in November, and the seat will open up in 2022 when he’s barred by term limits from running again.
San Diego: High school graduation speeches are usually full of praise for teachers and officials. So it was more than a little unusual when a valedictorian sarcastically thanked them for making her self-sufficient by doing nothing to help her. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports San Ysidro High senior Nataly Buhr initially thanked parents, friends and some teachers. Then she thanked a school counselor for teaching her to fend for herself by never being available and the main office staff for not informing her of scholarships until a day before the deadline. Buhr also thanked a teacher she said was regularly intoxicated for being an example of “the dangers of alcoholism.” The district says Buhr’s speech didn’t follow her pre-approved version and was inappropriate. But Buhr’s mother said she couldn’t be prouder.
The local school district is considering the demolition of Columbine High School, the scene of a mass assault more than 20 years ago, and rebuilding the current school. (Photo: David Zalubowski, AP)
Denver: Two decades after the name “Columbine” became synonymous with a school shooting, the suburban Denver community surrounding the school is debating whether it’s time to tear down a building that also became a beacon for people obsessed with the killings. School officials say the number of people trying to get close to or even inside the school reached record levels this year, the 20th anniversary of the 1999 attack that killed 13 people. People try to peek into the windows of the school library, mistaking it for the long-demolished room where most of the victims died, or ask people on campus how to take a tour. The buses full of tourists have mostly stopped over the years, but not the visitors. This year alone, security staff contacted more than 2,400 “unauthorized” people on Columbine’s campus.
Hartford: Officials are kicking off an effort to encourage students graduating from high schools and others to consider attending one of the state’s 12 community colleges. The first in a series of events this summer will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the Prince Technical High School in Hartford. The summer enrollment campaign is being dubbed “Aspire” and is focusing on those who may not have considered a post-secondary education. Admissions staff from Manchester and Capital Community Colleges will be on hand to talk to any interested potential students. In May, the Connecticut Board of Regents eliminated the application fee for Connecticut’s community colleges. Various officials will be on hand for Monday’s event, including Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian.
Aubrey Plaza and Stephen Colbert detail upcoming events in Wilmington, Delaware, on a segment called "Community Calendar," on the June 14 edition of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." (Photo: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, YouTube)
Wilmington: As a guest on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Friday, actress and Wilmington native Aubrey Plaza joined Colbert for a segment called “Community Calendar,” in which the duo detailed and poked fun at events happening near the city. The show rolled a montage of local sites including the Caesar Rodney statue and the Rockford Tower. “You know what we say in Wilmington – it’s a Wilming-ton of fun,” Plaza said. “Oh, I’m Del-aware of that,” Colbert retorted. The two ran through a list of events including the Wilmington Pirate Festival on June 29 and the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center’s FatherFest on June 16. The description of Sunday’s FatherFest promised classic cars, motorcycles and a beer garden. “So stop by and see what happens when you mix vehicles, alcohol and middle-aged despair,” Plaza deadpanned.
District of Columbia
Washington: The top economic official for the city is leaving his post to join Amazon. The Washington Post reports Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s office announced the impending departure of Brian Kenner on Thursday. Kenner is the deputy mayor for planning and economic development and has been a part of the mayor’s Cabinet since she took office in 2015. He’s set to leave his District of Columbia role next month. The mayor will then appoint someone on an interim basis. Kenner previously worked to incentivize Amazon to build its second headquarters in the district. The online behemoth instead chose Arlington County, Virginia. Kenner told The Washington Business Journal that Amazon approached him about a month ago. He says he’ll work in the company’s D.C.-based policy shop.
Jessie Grieb, right, leaves the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. marker in Key West, Fla., on Friday after completing a 2,575-mile walk from Fort Kent, Maine, to raise awareness of the opioid overdose crisis. (Photo: Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
Key West: A South Carolina woman has reached the Florida Keys, completing a 2,575-mile walk to give attention to the opioid overdose crisis. Jessie Grieb finished her East Coast Overdose Awareness Walk on Friday at Key West’s Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. marker. Friday marked the fourth anniversary of her brother Brian’s death by accidental overdose. Grieb’s boyfriend succumbed to heroin, and she has struggled herself with addiction since she was 17. The Pawleys Island resident started her journey in Fort Kent, Maine, on July 28, 2018, after she had suffered a relapse. To help carry supplies, Grieb pushed a small cart named “Lieutenant Dan” in honor of the “Forrest Gump” character who dealt with addiction in the movie.
21 Savage (Photo: THEO WARGO, WireImage)
Atlanta: Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage has given $25,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center after the watchdog organization helped him while he was in federal immigration custody earlier this year. The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested Feb. 3 in what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said was a targeted operation over his expired visa. Abraham-Joseph is a British citizen and moved to the U.S. when he was 7. In a statement, immigration attorney Charles Kuck said the Atlanta-based rapper wants to support the work the SPLC has done to give immigrants legal representation and fight what Kuck called ICE’s “oppressively adverse conditions of detention.” The rapper spent 10 days at the Irwin County Detention Center before he was released on a $100,000 bond.
Honolulu: A man injured during a rockfall in a state park was among five people cited for trespassing, officials say. State officials cited Lincoln Hittner of Honolulu for trespassing in a closed park, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Hittner was treated for minor injuries by Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers in Sacred Falls State Park, officials say. Hittner described his near-miss with the rockfall as “15 seconds of terror,” officials say. He was among a group of six that included Hawaii residents and a visiting Australian who all received citations, authorities say. Sacred Falls State Park has been closed and warning signs posted since a 1999 accident left eight people dead and dozens hurt, officials say. The state has extensively publicized the dangers of entering closed areas, including a video about Sacred Falls, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Jon Heder stars in "Napoleon Dynamite," set in Preston, Idaho. (Photo: Aaron Ruell)
Preston: The cult comedy “Napoleon Dynamite” turns 15 years old this month, a milestone for a movie filmed in the Gem State that became an early breakaway hit in today’s era of pop-culture geek celebration. The movie that created the “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt and made Napoleon’s disgusted exclamation of “gosh!” into a 2004 catchphrase is celebrating its anniversary this month. Made for just $400,000 in and around Franklin County, it would ultimately gross over $46 million as a word-of-mouth hit before social media took off. The movie told the story of its socially awkward title character, who ultimately triumphed because of his quirks rather than in spite of them. Its success added to a rising profile for unapologetic nerds just before hits like “The Big Bang Theory” ushered in a new era of geek glory.
Chicago: Some endangered birds could ground a beachfront music festival proposed for late August. Promoters of Mamby on the Beach are seeking a permit from the Chicago Park District to move the show to Montrose Beach on the city’s north side. But two piping plovers lately have been making the beach their home. Four eggs were discovered and turned over to the Lincoln Park Zoo last week. The plovers appear to be making a new nest, said Louise Clemency of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. MAMBY on the Beach is scheduled to take place Aug. 23-24 and expected to draw up to 20,000 people to the Lake Michigan lakefront each day. But Jill Niland of the Montrose Lakefront Coalition says there are concerns about the number of people expected to attend and noise pollution that could disrupt the piping plovers. The small shorebird is on state endangered species lists and listed as threatened at the federal level.
Indianapolis: A change state lawmakers made this year to a tax incentive for startups is being hailed as a big win for the tech industry because it promises to make it easier for fledgling businesses to attract out-of-state investors. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that legislation signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb will allow investors to transfer Indiana’s Venture Capital Investment tax credits, starting next year. Transferring the credits will allow out-of-state investors to essentially sell them to someone in the state who can take advantage. Tech community leaders say the change will encourage out-of-state individuals to invest in Indiana startups. The state’s VCI tax credit program allows someone who invests in an Indiana startup to claim a tax credit worth 20% of the investment. The credit is capped at $1 million.
Andrew Dunham harvests Hakurei turnips on his 80-acre organic farm in Grinnell, Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Des Moines: Torrential rain this spring prevented most Midwest farmers from planting their crops, but while the federal government provides help to growers of corn and soybeans, those who grow so-called specialty crops are largely on their own. Although the lack of federal safety net programs for farmers who grow everything from arugula to zucchini isn’t new, one of the wettest springs in U.S. history has focused attention on the special status of commodity crops, primarily corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat. Iowa organic farmer Andrew Dunham shrugs at the situation, noting that “there are no federal bailouts for vegetable farmers.” Iowa State University economist Chad Hart says crops like corn and soybeans are treated differently because they’re so important to the national economy, and shortages would be painful, particularly to the livestock industry.
Wichita: Two endangered Mexican wolf pups from a Kansas zoo have been released into the wild in Arizona. The Wichita Eagle reports that a male puppy, named Traveler, and a female puppy, named Jaunt, were born at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita. They were 2 weeks old last month when they were placed with a litter whose mother is wild. Mexican wolves are considered critically endangered, with fewer than 150 members of the species remaining in the wild. They are native to the southwestern United States in Arizona and New Mexico, and in Chihuahua, Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will remotely observe the pack to monitor the results of the cross-fostering. But senior zookeeper Nancy Smith says the pack seems to be doing well.
Louisville: The Louisville Zoo has narrowed a naming competition for its new bongo calf down to three characters from the beloved Marvel masterpiece “Guardians of the Galaxy”: Drax, Groot and Rocket. Until June 23, zoo visitors can make a donation to choose their favorite name. There will be a naming kiosk with three slots in the plaza to the right near the zoo’s entrance. The calf will be given the name that receives the most donations, to be announced during the week of June 24. All donations in the competition will go to the zoo’s conservation efforts. Bongos are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and are listed as a “near threatened” species. The future Drax, Groot or Rocket is on exhibit along with his mother and the other bongos.
New Orleans: A state court official has agreed to take steps to make sure defendants in criminal cases aren’t jailed because they cannot afford bail. The agreement is detailed in a federal court order filed Thursday involving Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell and plaintiffs who accused Cantrell of violating an earlier federal judgment regarding low-income defendants. As a magistrate judge in the criminal district court in New Orleans, Cantrell sets bail for people arrested on various state charges. The agreement details requirements for determining whether a defendant can afford bail and whether the defendant is a flight risk or poses a danger when alternatives to bail are considered. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon issued Thursday’s order detailing the agreement and closing the case against Cantrell.
Dover-Foxcroft: Police say a moose smashed through the window of a vacant pizzeria. Piscataquis County corrections officer Matt Poole snapped a photo of the moose stepping through broken glass onto East Main Street early Friday. The Dover-Foxcroft Police Department posted on Facebook, “We found the suspect and they are not in custody. Boring right?” Maine has plenty of moose, and sometimes they wander into towns. But Police Chief Ryan Reardon says it was the first time in 26 years he’d seen one run into a building. State biologists estimate Maine’s moose population is between 50,000 and 70,000.
Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art has so far this year added more than 70 contemporary and historic artworks to its broad collection. BMA director Christopher Bedford said in a statement that the new acquisitions highlight the curatorial team’s vision in forging connections “across artists and movements within the museum’s collection.” Additions include 19th-century prints by Italian art nouveau illustrator Manuel Orazi, a film by Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta and a painting by contemporary American artist Mary Lovelace O’Neal. Various new pieces were purchased with proceeds from last year’s auction of seven works by 20th-century artists, including Andy Warhol, to help diversify and contemporize its collection. The BMA has nearly 100,000 pieces, including the world’s largest holding of Henri Matisse’s creations.
Boston: A bit of seat belt art is part of a new public information campaign aimed at getting young men to buckle up when they’re behind the wheel. State officials say they commissioned teens through Artists for Humanity to create a free-standing art installation that will help deliver the message that seat belts can save lives. The 6-foot-by-12-foot artwork is wrapped with real seat belts and will be displayed at locations around the state during the summer. The new campaign is called “Love Clicks” and is based on research that suggests young men are more likely to use seat belts if someone they love asks them to do so. Data suggests that while seat belt use is increasing in Massachusetts, men still buckle up at a lower rate than women.
Lansing: Pride flags are flying on the state office building for the first time in Michigan’s history. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered that starting Saturday, two of the iconic rainbow flags will fly on the George W. Romney Building to help celebrate June as Pride Month in Michigan. The flying of the flags comes after Whitmer signed a proclamation designating June as Pride Month to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. A police raid on a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn triggered a series of riots and sparked the nascent LGBT movement in the country and around the world. In a news release, Whitmer said celebrating Pride Month helps ensure that members of Michigan’s LGBTQ community “are treated with the respect they deserve.”
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota regents have voted to allow beer and wine sales in the general seating sections of the school’s basketball and hockey arenas. Friday’s vote was unanimous and comes as the school is trying to drive up revenue at sporting events. The university has been dropping some ticket prices in response to declining attendance. The Star Tribune reports that athletic director Mark Coyle told regents that campus police back the expanded alcohol sales, as does a fan advisory council. TCF Bank Stadium expanded alcohol sales to general seating areas in 2012. Overall alcohol revenue at the football stadium has been about $1.3 million annually, with most of that coming from general seating, the Star Tribune reports.
Tammy Wynette (Photo: Raeanne Rubenstein)
Meridian: Five more members have been added to a hall of fame that honors the arts and entertainment in the Magnolia State. The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience announced the additions Thursday of four musicians and one literary figure. Country singer Tammy Wynette of Tremont was lauded as the first lady of country music. Singer and guitarist Bo Diddley helped bridge the blues and rock ’n’ roll. Pianist and singer Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the last surviving pioneers of rock ’n’ roll. Margaret Walker Alexander was a poet, novelist and Jackson State University literature professor. John Lee Hooker was a blues guitarist and five-time Grammy Award winner. The new designees join 23 existing members. The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Meridian includes exhibits, performance spaces and a recording studio.
Cape Girardeau: A bar that served as a set location for the movie “Gone Girl” will reopen later this month. The Southeast Missourian reports that The Bar in downtown Cape Girardeau had been closed since last fall. Representative for the management company that owns it and several other downtown properties say the establishment will resume serving drinks June 27. Formerly a catering business, the corner site was transformed into The Bar for the 2014 film “Gone Girl” starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris. After the movie was released, the set was converted into a real restaurant and bar. General manager Derek Vaughn says it will no longer serve food and will only be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.
Helena: Lawmakers did not have enough support to override four vetoes by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Poll results released Friday showed lawmakers did not reach the two-thirds majority needed in the state House and the Senate to override vetoes on a bill that would have given health insurers the ability to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, two bills that would have created tax breaks and a campus free-speech bill. Bullock vetoed a bill proposed by Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale that sought to lower prescription drug prices by requiring pharmacy benefit managers to pass on drug manufacturer rebates to insurers. Bullock said the proposal would actually increase costs. In total, lawmakers voted 108-40 in favor of Rosendale’s bill during the session, but the override effort fell short by five votes in each chamber.
Lincoln: Visitors to six state recreation areas will be allowed to light off fireworks July 4. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says those recreation areas are Branched Oak near Malcolm, Fort Kearny near Kearney, Pawnee near Emerald, Wagon Train near Hickman, and those near Memphis and Fremont. Those parks will permit fireworks from 8 a.m. until midnight on July 4 only. Signs at recreation areas will point the way to designated fireworks sites, and their boundaries will be clearly marked. Use of fireworks elsewhere in state areas or at other times is prohibited. Only fireworks approved for sale in Nebraska are permitted, and visitors must pick up expended fireworks and deposit them in appropriate containers.
Burners climb on an art installation titled "Night of the Climb" by Dustin Weatherford at Burning Man on Aug. 27, 2018. (Photo: Andy Barron/RGJ)
Reno: Burning Man won’t be growing this year, but there could be at least one major change upon entry – drug screenings. The Bureau of Land Management on Friday issued the final environmental impact statement for Burning Man, denying the Burning Man organization its sought-after growth to 100,000 people but granting it more time to address a number of environmental and security concerns. The federal agency may, however, hire a private security firm this year to conduct drug screenings. Or it might wait until 2020, according to BLM spokesman Rudy Evenson. As for the growth of the event, the population cap will remain at 80,000 people for the weeklong event held each year over Labor Day weekend in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Hampton Falls: Enthusiastic clapping – and some furious flapping – marked the end to the saga of designating an official state raptor. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday signed a bill honoring the red-tailed hawk. As applause broke out, a bird being held just over his shoulder began flapping its wings. The bill was proposed by Hampton Falls fourth graders four years ago, but it was killed after one lawmaker injected the issue of abortion into the debate by saying the hawk’s habit of tearing apart prey “limb from limb” would make it an ideal mascot for Planned Parenthood. The students, now in eighth grade, lobbied for a new bill this year and were successful. Sununu told them they exemplified a lesson in perseverance.
Trenton: A year after gunfire shattered the city’s annual Art All Night festival, hundreds flocked to this year’s celebration of local art, music, food and films – even though, strictly speaking, it no longer quite lived up to the name. The formerly “all night” festival took a break from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday before resuming for the morning and afternoon. And for the first time in the festival’s 13-year history, the event was fenced off, and attendees had to go through security checkpoints before entering the event space that included visible police and security officers. The June 17 shooting last year left a suspect dead and 22 people injured in what authorities said looked like neighborhood gang dispute. But those attending this year to examine the more than 800 pieces of art displayed inside and outside the Roebling Wireworks Building spoke of moving forward rather than looking backward.
Santa Fe: The state’s film industry appears to be on the brink of a boom thanks to abortion law controversies in other states and expanded incentives. A recent spike in film production in the state comes as Hollywood targets both Georgia and Louisiana over recently passed restrictive abortion laws, the Albuquerque Journal reports. The political developments are being watched closely in New Mexico, which is poised to benefit even though state officials have said there’s no organized campaign to lure film productions from those states. The jump also comes as New Mexico is set to more than double its annual state spending cap on film incentives. In addition, NBCUniversal announced Friday it will build a television and film studio in a warehouse district just north of downtown Albuquerque as it seeks to expand its footprint in one of the fastest-growing film production hubs in the country.
New York: New York City police say a 29-year-old officer died Friday in the department’s third suspected suicide in less than two weeks. Police say he shot himself in the head on a Staten Island street near the 121st Precinct to which the officer was assigned. His identity had not been released as of late Friday. The week before, two longtime officers died in suspected suicides within 24 hours of each other. Deputy Chief Steven Silks was found dead in a police vehicle in Queens on June 5. Detective Joseph Calabrese was found the next day at a Brooklyn beach. Police say both died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. In the wake of the deaths, Commissioner James O’Neill sent a note reminding the more than 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilians in the NYPD that help is available if they’re feeling depressed, hopeless or otherwise contemplating self-harm.
Raleigh: The state won’t clear voting-machine makers to sell their systems to county elections boards until it learns more about who owns them, the elections board chairman said Friday. The decision comes amid worries of foreign election interference that have grown since special counsel Robert Mueller’s April report into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election. Mueller’s report “essentially says everybody should be concerned about this, and everybody should be looking harder at a lot of these things to make sure we’re protected as best we can be,” said Robert Cordle, the head of the state elections board. “It’s just a matter of doing our due diligence now.” The state board is giving the three companies that have already passed several rounds of screening until Friday to disclose anyone holding a 5% or greater interest in their company, their parent company or any subsidiaries.
Bismarck: Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota plans to acquire the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House’s property in Bismarck and turn the facility into affordable housing. Lutheran Social Services is partnering with CommunityWorks North Dakota on the acquisition. The plan is to take over the facility by the end of summer. The sale of the site is “in the works,” Lutheran Social Services CEO Jessica Thomasson told The Bismarck Tribune. Choice Bank took ownership of the facility last month. “The reason we got involved was to try to preserve these 85 units of affordable housing in Bismarck because it’s hard when a community loses an asset like that to ever get it back,” Thomasson said. She said the plans include retaining the 85 apartments, renovating some of the units and common areas, and turning underutilized space into 20 additional apartments.
Firefighters assemble a tube around farmer Jay Butterfield during the process of rescuing him from a soybean bin on his farm in Ross Township, Ohio. (Photo: Ross Township Fire Department via AP)
Cincinnati: Farmer Jay Butterfield survived a harrowing afternoon recently after being buried up to his neck inside a soybean bin. The 70-year-old was trying to break up wet clumps of the crop inside a 30-foot-tall bin when he sank up to his knees. The material along the bin’s sides began to engulf him. Within 15 minutes, Butterfield was buried up to his neck and thought he was probably going to die. The three-hour rescue effort on the farm north of Cincinnati involved 52 first responders from a dozen departments. Butterfield acknowledges he’s a lucky man. Last year, 30 people were buried in grain on farms, and half died. Butterfield’s friend Charlie Groh died in a corn bin in 2013 in a neighboring township. It happens so often, in fact, that fire departments in farming regions undergo special training and acquire equipment just for these situations.
Miranda Muehl, of Mustang, Okla., marches during a march to call for justice for missing and murdered indigenous women Friday at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma in Concho, Okla. (Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP)
Concho: Families and friends of missing or slain American Indian women and girls are again calling for justice for their loved ones. About 200 people gathered Friday near the headquarters of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Concho. Many wore red and marched, holding signs with pictures of women on them. Similar demonstrations have taken place in other states amid growing concern that police nationwide are not adequately identifying or reporting cases of missing and murdered Native American and Alaska Native women and girls. Those demographic groups have some of the nation’s highest rates of sexual and domestic violence. Kateri Fletcher, a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal government official who helped organize the event, said it was designed to bring awareness and show support for families who still need answers.
Aurora: A global hemp research lab in the state is part of a larger movement to bring the standardization to hemp that traditional crops like corn and cotton enjoy. It’s a critical step toward accountability and consistency in an industry that’s sprung up almost overnight since the U.S. legalized hemp last year. The Global Hemp Innovation Center was unveiled recently by Oregon State University and will be the largest such research hub in the U.S. Oregon State will also begin certifying hemp seeds so that farmers can be confident they’re getting quality seeds. A national review board for hemp varieties is also getting up and running. Interest in the cannabis crop has exploded because of hemp-derived CBD, a compound marketed as having health benefits but without the high caused by marijuana.
Bloomsburg: For the past 15 years, Bloomsburg University students have been quietly stocking the shelves of a town food cupboard, donating more than a ton of food and more than $15,000 in meal-plan funds each year. With the help of those donations, volunteers at the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard have been able to bag breakfast, lunch and snacks for elementary students from poor families to take home each weekend, says cupboard director Martha Sheehe. University students who have meal plan “FLEX” money left in their accounts at the end of the academic year can either spend it down or donate it, says Tom McGuire, director of media relations at BU. Sometimes students will buy cases of water or soda to drain their accounts, but many donate their remaining cash to ARAMARK, the university’s dining service, which then purchases food to fill the elementary students’ “Panther Packs.”
Providence: The state has preserved 43 acres of open space to provide more recreational opportunities. The Department of Environmental Management says it’s using about $250,000 provided through open space bonds to permanently protect forested land in Charlestown for public recreational access. DEM Director Janet Coit says she’s delighted to secure this valuable parcel and encouraged residents to explore it. The property abuts DEM’s Burlingame Management Area. That area, with the adjoining Burlingame State Park, encompasses more than 4,000 contiguous acres of protected land that’s managed for public recreation, including fishing, hunting and camping. The department purchased the property from private landowners and, at their request, granted a conservation easement to the Charlestown Land Trust to increase the level of protection on the property.
Summerville: A mapping error from 1897 is causing 21st-century headaches for people living near Charleston. Surveyors 122 years ago messed up drawing the county line between Berkeley and Dorchester counties. The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the mistake was officially corrected last year, leaving an apartment complex and a senior living home split between the two counties. State officials have been working for a decade to precisely map county boundaries. Tenants at the Farmington Village Apartments are told that the unit they select will decide whether their children go to schools in Berkeley County or Dorchester County. The Village at Summerville senior living complex is split, too, but has arranged to have Dorchester County Emergency Medical Service answer all of its calls. The redrawn boundary has changed tax bills too.
Rapid City: A business development center that was launched more than a decade ago on the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology campus is coming out of the shadows. The Rapid City Journal reports that the Ascent Innovation Center, which opened in a remote corner of the campus in 2006, has outgrown its space and is poised to expand to a more visible location, in downtown Rapid City. School officials say construction on the $12 million business incubator could begin this summer, thanks in part to a $3 million federal grant that puts the new center in range of being fully funded. The architect of the project is Wisconsin-based Strang Inc., which specializes in design of innovation centers and research parks. The building is slated for completion in late 2020.
Memphis: Peanuts, cracker jacks, hot dogs … mayonnaise? One fan added a weird twist to baseball stadium cuisine when he started eating from a mayonnaise jar during the Memphis Redbirds’ 8-4 loss to the Las Vegas Aviators at AutoZone Park on Saturday. He started eating early in the game, and by the fourth inning he moved to a different seat and continued eating from the jar with a spoon before security had him moved to another seat. That didn’t stop the mayo eater as he found a new place and continued eating it in the fifth inning. The Redbirds’ Twitter account kept a running commentary, as insiders were apparently as shocked and confused as fans watching it on social media. Even Minor League Baseball’s Twitter account got wind of the fan’s snack and tweeted further disgust.
Houston resident Scenacia Jones stands in front of her new home, part of an innovative program that builds houses after natural disasters and lets families live in one part of the structure while the rest is completed. (Photo: Juan Lozano/AP)
Houston: The groups behind an innovative way of rebuilding homes after a natural disaster say their approach will save money and get people into housing more quickly. They’re hoping a bill signed last week by Gov. Greg Abbott related to disaster planning will boost their efforts. The housing program known as Rapido, Spanish for fast, debuted its first such home built in Houston last week. Under the program, a core unit made up of pre-built panels is assembled. A family lives in this core while the rest of the house is built around them. The Texas agency that has handled housing recovery following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 says it supports such innovations but says rule changes would be needed to free up federal funding to support such ideas.
John R. Frey, a U.S. Army veteran, sits in front of cards and mementos he has been given at the Mervyn Sharp Bennion Central Utah Veterans Home in Payson, Utah. (Photo: Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP)
Orem: When John Frey’s family requested 101 birthday cards to celebrate the World War II veteran’s 101st birthday in Utah, they were expecting to get 500 at most. At a celebration June 8, a day after his birthday, Frey ended up with well over 5,000 cards, the Daily Herald reports. According to the report, Frey’s request spread quickly after the Associated Press picked up the story from the Daily Herald in May and it appeared in news outlets across the country. The cards came from all 50 states and at least 12 countries. Entire classrooms of children, military veterans and Utah’s elected officials wanted to wish the former mechanic/machinist for the U.S. Army a happy birthday. Frey said he had not expected to ever get so many cards.
Montpelier: U.S. production of maple syrup increased slightly this year, even though the season was shorter than last year’s. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week that the country produced 4.2 million gallons of the pancake topper, up 1% from 2018. Leading producer Vermont made more than 2 million gallons, an increase over 2018. Data shows Vermont was followed by New York, Maine and Wisconsin. The USDA says the earliest sap flow reported was Jan. 5 in New York. The season lasted an average of 30 days in syrup-producing states, compared with 42 last year. Amanda Voyer, of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, says the conditions made for some strong days of sap flow in trees.
Richmond: State Attorney General Mark Herring is calling for the legalization of marijuana. Herring said Saturday that Virginia should start decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and eventually legalize the drug. The Democratic attorney general said criminal prosecutions are costly to the state and local governments and disproportionately affect African Americans. Herring made the remarks in an op-ed in the Daily Press and in comments to reporters at a Democratic fundraiser in Richmond. Herring’s announcement won’t have any practical impact on marijuana prosecutions, which are typically handled at the local level. But Herring said he hopes his public support for legalization will help spur lawmakers to act. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has killed past efforts to decriminalize marijuana.
Bellingham: A Christian organization has fired a teenager from his job as a camp counselor because he is gay. The Bellingham Herald reports Jace Taylor says he was terminated Tuesday after being hired last month by THE FIRS to be a Fir Creek camp counselor. The nondenominational Christian organization confirmed that Taylor’s sexual orientation was the reason for his firing. Executive Director Tom Beaumont says when it became evident that Taylor didn’t personally align with the group’s statements of faith, it determined it could not use him in the role. Under state law, an employer cannot discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation. QLaw Foundation executive director Denise Diskin says religious nonprofit employers are not defined as employers under the law. Taylor says he intends to picket on the first day of camp to inform people there of the situation.
Roanoke: Students participating in the state’s new program for free tuition at public community colleges will have to pass a drug test that includes marijuana. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the board of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System listened to a presentation Thursday from a consultant helping launch the program. Kathy Butler said the testing will include the marijuana component THC as well as opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and other drugs. Butler said the testing is modeled after that used by WorkForce West Virginia, a state job placement and training organization. Students will be required to pass the drug test within 60 days of the start of a semester to receive free tuition for that semester. The policy does allow exemptions for legally prescribed medicines.
Line cook Alex Minear, center, cuts up mushrooms as the DanDan kitchen staff prepares for the lunch rush. Local officials and business owners say there's a shortage of service industry workers as Milwaukee prepares to host the Democratic National Convention in July 2020. (Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Milwaukee: Hiring in the restaurant and hotel industry is difficult right now. More than 4,000 positions in the area are advertised on one of the largest job sites, Indeed. Hospitality businesses in the city say they don’t have enough workers ready to serve the tens of thousands of people who will come to town for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. At the same time, Milwaukee has large segments of its population that are unemployed and could benefit from work in the service industry. “It’s ships passing in the night – people looking for employees and the people looking for jobs,” Mayor Tom Barrett says. Business and city leaders are starting to make plans for how to use the DNC to establish a pipeline for workers to enter the service industry –a resource that would exist after the convention leaves.
Riverton: Students at a high school here will be able to take classes on the Northern Arapaho language. The Riverton Ranger reports that the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees has approved offering two courses of the language at Riverton High School. Riverton Principal John Griffith says parents and students have been suggesting the idea for years in the district near the Wind River Reservation. He says the school now has a staff member with a desire to teach the language. The first class will acquaint students with the basic sounds of the Arapaho language. They also will learn the Arapaho alphabet. In the second class, students will use the basic sounds to form Arapaho words and phrases in order to have conversations or tell short stories.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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