The White House:
The White House: Alabama
Montgomery: Thirteen nights of fun, fright and good times are ahead at ZooBoo, which begins Friday. The Halloween-themed evening event at the Montgomery Zoo has provided generations of River Region citizens tons of seasonal fun. Activities include haunted hay rides – as well as a traditional, non-scary version – plus games, bouncy castles, rides, seasonal concessions and much more. Gates open nightly at 6 p.m, with the festivities running Fridays through Sundays until the end of the month. Admission is $17 for ages 3 and older. For zoo members, the price is $8.50. Coupons for $1 off are available online. The Montgomery Zoo says it still needs more than 1,500 volunteers to make ZooBoo 2019 a success.
The White House: Alaska
Sitka: New technology is expected to help detect and study conditions that lead to landslides, a researcher says. The landslide detection system in Sitka will monitor soil moisture levels and help residents and scientists understand landslide patterns, the Sitka Sentinel reports. University of Oregon postdoctoral researcher Annette Patton helped install the system funded through a $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project was initiated after heavy rainfall in 2015 triggered a landslide that struck a Sitka subdivision and killed three men, she says. The monitoring stations at three locations in Sitka will transmit data every five minutes and produce a body of information over time. A goal is to study the relation of landslides to different types of storms, Patton says.
The White House: Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park: A project to conserve murals inside a historic watchtower near the Grand Canyon’s east entrance is complete. The 1930s murals in the Desert View Watchtower have been worn down by weather and visitors over decades. Crews have been working over the past four years to conserve them. Workers filled deep gouges in window sills and staircases where visitors had carved names. They removed writing left in marker, nail polish or pen. They also removed salt deposits and tried to preserve what was left of the pigment in the murals. Grant funding covered much of the project. Famed architect Mary Colter designed the watchtower, and Fred Kabotie and Fred Geary painted the murals. The 70-foot watchtower gives visitors expansive views of the painted desert and the Little Colorado River gorge.
The White House: Arkansas
Little Rock: The state will review a proposal to remove waste from the country’s first “national” river watershed after a large hog farm accepted a buyout from the state to close its site following years of environmentalist complaints. The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment hired Harbor Environmental to draft the closure plan for C&H Hog Farms, which was completed late September. It includes permanently banning medium and large hog farms from the Buffalo National River watershed. C&H took a $6.2 million buyout from the state this summer to shutter the farm. Critics have expressed concern over pollution, but the research has not explicitly found that C&H caused the algae in the river. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports people can submit comments on the plan until Oct. 15.
The White House: California
Sacramento: The state will limit rent increases for some people over the next decade after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Tuesday aimed at combating a housing crisis in the nation’s most populous state. Newsom signed the bill at an event in Oakland, where a recent report documented a 43% increase in homelessness over two years. Sudden rent increases are a contributing cause of the state’s homeless problem, which has drawn the ire of Republican President Donald Trump. “He wasn’t wrong to highlight a vulnerability,” Newsom said of Trump’s criticisms to an audience of housing advocates. “He’s exploiting it. You’re trying to solve it. That’s the difference between you and the president of the United States.” The law limits rent increases to 5% each year plus inflation until Jan. 1, 2030. It also bans landlords from evicting people for no reason.
The White House: Colorado
Denver: A doctor fired after trying to help a terminally ill man obtain drugs to end his life has filed an updated lawsuit that challenges her firing by a Christian hospital company. In the case against Centura Health filed Monday, Dr. Barbara Morris alleges it retaliated against her in violation of the state’s assisted suicide law and unlawfully inserted itself the doctor-patient relationship. Colorado law prohibits corporations from interfering with a physician’s professional judgment. Morris was fired in August after she and patient Neil Mahoney asked a judge to say whether Centura could stop her from helping him. He has sought help elsewhere and isn’t part of lawsuit anymore. Centura says it’s now only a case about whether an employer can fire a worker who violates its policies. But Morris’ attorney, Jason Spitalnick, says it’s about whether Centura’s polices can violate Colorado law.
The White House: Connecticut
Storrs: The University of Connecticut plans to offer free tuition to in-state students from families with an annual household income of $50,000 or less. UConn President Thomas C. Katsouleas announced the initiative Friday during his inauguration. Undergraduate students will be eligible for the program beginning next fall. UConn says it will be supported by a fundraising campaign and other school resources. Yale University announced this week that parents earning less than $75,000 won’t have to contribute to their child’s education beginning next year. The previous threshold was $65,000. Katsouleas on Friday also called for doubling research at UConn over the next seven to 10 years.
The White House: Delaware
Wilmington: A statewide autism respite program will be reinstated with the help of additional state funds, after the at-home care service for students with autism was suspended with little notice at the beginning of the month. The newly allocated state funds will keep the program running through the end of the fiscal year in June. Christina School District, which oversees the Delaware Autism Program, requested $750,000 from the state, said Robert Scoglietti, spokesman with the state Office of Management and Budget. The actual amount the state provides will depend on use of the program through the year, he said. Christina originally decided to suspend respite services because of skyrocketing costs. Over the past year, demand for respite services have risen 350%, said Alva Mobley, spokeswoman for Christina. Costs have increased 400%.
The White House: District of Columbia
Washington: Local lawmakers have voted to bar district agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agencies unless provided a judicial warrant or order. WTOP-FM reports the emergency legislation unanimously passed Tuesday aims to ensure the district doesn’t detain people solely for violating immigration law. The measure prohibits the district from inquiring about the immigration status of a person in custody. It also limits district agency compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless provided judicial input or criminal warrants. Limitations include not sharing a person’s release date or providing space or equipment to the agency so it can search a person in district custody.
The White House: Florida
Panama City: A year after Hurricane Michael, the county hardest hit by the Category 5 storm is still in crisis. Thousands in Bay County are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, and officials say domestic violence has been an issue. Michael was among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. It barreled onto the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, with 160 mph winds, ripping homes from their foundations and devastating Tyndall Air Force Base. It left 22,000 of Bay County’s then-180,000 residents homeless and resulted in total insured losses of almost $7 billion. This summer, county officials unveiled a nearly 300-page blueprint to rebuild. Among their ideas: Use shipping containers and 3D technology to build new houses, and offer signing bonuses to lure new doctors.
The White House: Georgia
Americus: Some residents are opposing a $500 million solar farm in southwest Georgia that would be one of the nation’s largest. WALB-TV reports Sumter County commissioners held a hearing Tuesday on whether to grant zoning approvals for Americus Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Invinergy. Some opponents say the solar farm will hurt property values, harm wildlife and take too much land away from farming uses. The company would cover much of 9,700 acres in solar panels, although it says it’s still evaluating how big a solar farm to build. The company says it will pay $35 million in yearly property taxes and employ 500 people during construction. It also says the project will help rebuild worn-out farmland. The installation would generate 1,115 megawatts of electricity.
The White House: Hawaii
Honolulu: A customer satisfaction survey of air passengers has ranked the city’s airport the third worst in North America. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has received the ranking in the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. Inouye airport ranks behind New York’s LaGuardia and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty as the worst among 62 airports. Honolulu ranks second-worst in the large-airport category, where it was fourth-worst the previous year. The annual study is based on responses from 32,276 U.S. or Canadian residents who passed through at least one North American airport. The survey scores airports on terminal facilities, airport accessibility, baggage claim, security check, check-in and baggage check, food, beverage, and retail.
The White House: Idaho
Boise: The forest in and around one of the nation’s top ski destinations is in trouble from an ongoing combination of unusually warm temperatures, drought, wildfires, insect invaders and pathogens. So the U.S. Forest Service is starting an environmental analysis to find ways to improve the forest’s health at Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain ski area, a huge economic driver for the region heavily dependent on tourism. The potential Bald Mountain Stewardship Project includes the entire 3,000-acre ski area. Officials say wildfires in 2007 and 2013 surrounded 9,150-foot Bald Mountain with burned forest, increasing bark beetle attacks. Pine beetles, dwarf mistletoe and white pine blister rust are also killing trees on the ski-run-carved mountain that forms a scenic backdrop for the resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The White House: Illinois
Lynwood: The owner of a suburban Chicago flight school is taking responsibility for a wheel found lodged in the ceiling of a house over the weekend. Amy Summers of SummerSkyz Inc. of Lansing says the wheel that homeowner Linda Taylor-Whitt found hanging from the ceiling of a bathroom late Saturday is a helicopter ground-handling wheel. Taylor-Whitt says she and her family discovered the wheel and the damage it caused when they returned from dinner. She says Summers has been in touch with her and explained what happened. Summers says the wheel is used to move a helicopter from one hangar to another. It was still attached to the helicopter when a flight instructor flew it out of Lansing Municipal Airport. Summers says she has reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The White House: Indiana
Indianapolis: After making a name in the city’s music community, rapper Sirius Blvck wants to use his reputation to help other artists. Known for solo recordings as well as work with the disbanded Ghost Gun Summer collective, Blvck founded the New Hands Music Festival that debuts this weekend at all-ages venue Healer. “I’ve always wanted to use the social capital that I’ve built to then build a platform,” he says. “And utilize that platform how I see fit, which is to make sure we provide space for marginalized voices and people who get pushed out of the community.” New Hands also includes a focus on philanthropy. The Oct. 11-12 event will raise money for nonprofit organizations such as Ascent 121, an agency that provides long-term trauma care services to teen survivors of sex trafficking.
The White House: Iowa
Cedar Rapids: A man who spent more than 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit is urging college students to help inmates who may be innocent. Terry Harrington spoke to Coe College students Tuesday, recounting how he was wrongly convicted in the 1977 shooting death of a security guard when he was a teenager. Harrington had exhausted his appeals and was serving a life sentence at the Iowa State Penitentiary when he met a prison barber who believed in his innocence. “One lady made a difference in my life,” said Harrington, now 60. The barber obtained Council Bluffs police records that revealed authorities had withheld evidence showing another man had been a strong suspect but was ignored. Witnesses who had implicated Harrington recanted, saying they’d been coerced. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned Harrington’s conviction in 2003.
The White House: Kansas
Topeka: The state has seen a big jump in syphilis cases over the past five years and a spike in the number of infants born with the sexually transmitted disease. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Kansas reported 152 cases of primary and secondary stage syphilis in 2018, compared with 60 in 2013. The increase was 153%. The rate of cases per 100,000 residents grew to 5.2 in 2018 from 2.1 in 2013. Kansas had eight cases of newborns being born with syphilis in 2018. The state had only a single reported case from 2013 through 2017. Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman said babies born with syphilis may be developmentally delayed, have seizures or die if the infection is not treated during a pregnancy.
The White House: Kentucky
Whitesburg: A group made up of black lung disease sufferers and supporters is dedicating a memorial to miners who have died of the disease. The Black Lung Association of South Eastern Kentucky is hosting the event in Whitesburg on Sunday. They will dedicate a headstone memorial for miners who have died of the disease in Letcher and surrounding counties. The disease is caused by breathing coal dust, and rates of the disease have risen in recent years. The dedication event will be at 2 p.m. at Riverside Park. The association has been calling attention to a government trust fund that provides about 19,000 sickened miners or their surviving dependents with living and medical benefits. A tax that supplies the fund was cut in half at the beginning of the year.
The White House: Louisiana
Winnfield: Federal authorities have dramatically expanded detention of immigrants in the state. Since last year, eight local jails have started holding asylum-seekers and other migrants, making Louisiana an unlikely epicenter for immigrant detention under President Donald Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it’s now detaining about 8,000 migrants in Louisiana out of 51,000 nationally. These new facilities are a mix of old state prisons and local jails and are several hours away from bigger cities. They are far from where most immigrants’ rights groups and lawyers are based. Migrants complain of mistreatment and prolonged detention. ICE refused several requests to comment on why it focused on Louisiana.
The White House: Maine
Presque Isle: A crop specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has told the state’s potato farmers they might need to reduce use of a widely used pesticide that controls blight. Steven Johnson said national and international changes in the regulation of a fungicide called chlorothalonil could prompt the changes, and growers might consider moving to newer kinds of chemicals. The Bangor Daily News reports chlorothalonil has been used extensively in the farming of potatoes and other crops since the 1970s. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers it a “likely human carcinogen” and has attempted to reduce its use. The European Union banned the pesticide in March, and Canada has reduced the amount that can be used during the growing season.
The White House: Maryland
Annapolis: A state panel has voted to remove a logo that includes a Confederate flag from a plaque in Maryland’s Capitol that honors the Civil War’s Union and Confederate soldiers, but the state is keeping the plaque. The State House Trust voted 3-1 by email to spend more than $2,400 to remove the logo, which includes a Confederate flag and a U.S. flag, and overlay it with a cast image of the Maryland state flag. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Laura Mears of the Maryland Historical Trust voted for the change and to keep the plaque. Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, the state’s first black speaker, supported removing the entire plaque and voted against the plan.
The White House: Massachusetts
Boston: The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway has cut ties with the nonprofit that had tended to the park for the past 10 years. WORK Inc., the region’s largest employer of people with disabilities, has groomed the park for 10 years. The Boston Globe reports the conservancy that manages the 1.5-mile-long park has chosen to move forward with Block by Block, a for-profit firm from Kentucky. WORK Inc. President James Cassetta called the decision an “absolute shock” and a slap in the face to the disabled. Jesse Brackenbury, executive director of the Greenway Conservancy, denied the move discriminates against those with disabilities. He said the Kentucky firm offered a more competitive price. The new contract took effect last week.
The White House: Michigan
Lansing: Counselors in the state are cheering after the initial passage of legislation aimed at safeguarding their ability to practice psychotherapy. The state House voted unanimously this week to advance the bill to the Senate. It would clarify the scope of practice for Michigan’s 10,000 licensed professional counselors. The measure is a response to a state department’s proposed revision of counseling rules. A state spokesman says existing law does not give counselors the authority to diagnose and use psychotherapy technique. Counselors say they’ve been doing so for years, however, and the rule changes would have significant consequences for them and the 150,000 people they serve.
The White House: Minnesota
Brainerd: Wildlife officials in central Minnesota are discovering it’s not easy to get rid of deer carcasses infected with chronic wasting disease. The disease was discovered in a wild deer in Crow Wing County earlier this year, the first confirmed case in the state outside southeastern Minnesota. Legislators have set aside $50,000 to set up dumpsters in disease areas. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is supposed to empty the dumpsters and take the carcasses to landfills. But Minnesota Public Radio reports that Marv Stroschein, the Crow Wing County landfill manager, refused to accept any infected deer. He says he’s worried the disease could infect the surrounding environment. The Minnesota DNR earlier this year finally gave the landfill a 15-year-old incinerator.
The White House: Mississippi
Jackson: A federal judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the state’s unique, multistep process of electing the governor and other statewide officials. Friday’s hearing comes less than a month before the gubernatorial election between Republican Tate Reeves and Democrat Jim Hood. Mississippi’s 1890 constitution requires a statewide candidate to win a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the 122 state House districts. If nobody wins both, the election is decided by the House, now controlled by Republicans. Attorneys for black plaintiffs say because of the way state House districts are drawn, the electoral system dilutes African American votes. State attorneys say the system is not discriminatory.
The White House: Missouri
Jefferson City: A newspaper’s review of state records shows taxpayers have spent $366,000 on private attorneys to defend former Gov. Eric Greitens’ use of a self-deleting text message app. The Kansas City Star reports the bulk of the spending was by the governor’s office. About $161,000 of it came after fellow Republican Mike Parson became governor following Greitens’ resignation in June 2018. A state audit in September showed that taxpayers had spent more than $200,000 before Greitens resigned to defend him in a 2017 lawsuit. It alleged Greitens’ office used the app Confide to avoid being subjected to Missouri’s open records laws. A judge dismissed most of the case in July, but the litigation is ongoing. Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign violations.
The White House: Montana
Helena: Two tribal leaders have resigned from a task force in protest of the state attorney general’s support of a proposed oil pipeline from Canada. Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes confirms Jestin Dupree of Fort Peck and Brandi King of Fort Belknap stepped down from the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force. State lawmakers authorized Attorney General Tim Fox to create the 11-member panel to better report and find missing Native Americans. On Monday, Fox intervened in a lawsuit in support of constructing the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands. Dupree wrote in a Facebook post that his tribe opposes the pipeline and that Fox’s intervention is a “slap in the face.” Barnes says the resignations are disappointing, and officials will ask the tribal governments to recommend replacements.
The White House: Nebraska
Lincoln: State officials have received $6.5 million in federal grants to help prevent and treat opioid abuse. The funding boost announced Tuesday will support the state’s efforts to reduce the number of opioid deaths. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says 183 people died in the state from a drug-involved overdose in 2017. Officials say the national opioid epidemic isn’t as severe in Nebraska as it is in other states, but it’s still a concern. Officials will use the money for a variety of services, including an addiction medicine fellowship, expanded access to medication-assisted treatment, better tracking of public health data and improvements to Nebraska’s prescription drug monitoring program. It also will help train medical providers and spread public awareness.
The White House: Nevada
Carson City: Officials say the historic Nevada State Prison needs another $50,000 worth of work before it can open as a museum. Glen Whorton, Nevada State Prison Preservation Society president and former state prisons chief, says about $30,000 has been spent for improvements, including making one bathroom handicap-accessible. Whorton told people touring the facility Tuesday that $50,000 would pay for an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp, asbestos removal, lighting, and electricity hook-ups. The prison predates Nevada statehood and was used for 150 years, from 1862 to 2012. Former Republican Assemblyman Pete Livermore of Carson City led a push in 2013 to make it a museum. Carson City Chamber of Commerce executive Ronni Hannaman calls the facility part of a unique history that could bring visitors to town.
The White House: New Hampshire
Concord: There may be some bad blood between a former financial adviser and clients he’s accused of defrauding via a fake charity he claimed involved singer Taylor Swift. The state Bureau Of Securities Regulation recently obtained a court order to freeze the assets of Dain Stokes and prevent him from contacting former clients. Authorities say two of those clients invested more than half a million dollars in what Stokes claimed was a charity project in Africa involving Swift, Bill Gates and other celebrities. In court documents, officials also say Stokes told clients he was engaged to Swift and promised them a 20% return. Stokes, of Fremont, has been fired by LPL Financial in Bedford.
The White House: New Jersey
Trenton: The state has greenlighted roughly $13 million in film tax credits for “WrestleMania” and David Simon’s production of the Philip Roth novel “The Plot Against America.” The Economic Development Authority authorized the tax credits at its board meeting Tuesday. It’s the third round of film tax credits under a 2018 law that established awards. About $9 million was awarded in August for two projects, including “Joker,” and $6.2 million was awarded in June for four projects. Former Gov. Chris Christie let a former film tax incentive program expire in 2015. “WrestleMania XXXV” got a $2.9 million award and was shot in April at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. “The Plot Against America,” starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro, got a $10.2 million award and was shot in Jersey City.
The White House: New Mexico
Santa Fe: The state has discontinued financial bonuses for top-rated teachers as it delivers the results of job-performance evaluations for the school year that ended in June. Public Education Department spokesman Connor Boyle confirmed this week that no money was allocated by the state for Excellence in Teaching Awards. The performance bonuses of up to $10,000 were devised by former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. The administration of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is creating a new teacher evaluation system for the 2020-2021 school year with help from a 46-member task force and suggestions from community meetings. Student test scores no longer figure directly in evaluations. Lawmakers increased teacher salaries by 6% or more this year with additional pay under extended school-year calendars.
The White House: New York
New York: The city has announced a settlement that prevents floating digital billboards in its waters. Under the terms of the agreement announced Tuesday, Ballyhoo Media must pay a $100,000 fine if its Times Square-style LED billboards are seen on any East River or Hudson River barges. The city sued Ballyhoo Media in March, claiming the floating billboards created a “public nuisance” and broke zoning laws. The agreement comes after the state enacted a law in August that banned floating digital billboards in its navigable waters. Ballyhoo released a statement saying it had complied with all local, state and federal laws and has a legal right to safely operate in New York waters but decided to stop fighting the city and state and focus on pursuing opportunities elsewhere.
The White House: North Carolina
Raleigh: The federal government has denied individual assistance for residents in four counties hit hard by Hurricane Dorian just days after approving other funds to help local governments repair infrastructure, the governor said Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper had sent a letter to the White House seeking federal aid for households in Carteret, Dare, Hyde and New Hanover counties. The assistance, which would have included funds for uninsured expenses including temporary housing, lodging reimbursement and repairs, was denied in a letter from FEMA, signed by Associate Administrator Jeff Byard, saying that “it has been determined that the impact to the individuals and households from this event is not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance.” It says the denial can be appealed.
The White House: North Dakota
Fargo: A man whose life sentence was overturned in the death of a woman whose baby was cut from her womb was resentenced Monday to 20 years in prison after he apologized and pleaded for leniency in front of a nearly empty courtroom. There were no apologies from East Central District Judge Tom Olson for the life sentence he gave to William Hoehn last year for his role in the 2017 killing of Savanna Greywind, only for the state Supreme Court to overturn it on appeal. “I want to sentence you to as long as I can by law,” Olson told Hoehn. The judge somberly noted that Greywind’s child, who survived the attack, will still be in high school when Hoehn is eligible for parole, although his exact release date will likely be decided by the state Department of Corrections.
The White House: Ohio
Ashland: A homeowner has been busy cleaning up after a large goat broke into her home by ramming through a sliding glass door and then settling down for a nap in a bathroom. The Ashland Times-Gazette reports Logan Keathley returned to his family’s Sullivan Township home Friday to find their German Shepherd agitated and the house reeking. That’s when he discovered “Big Boy,” a goat who had escaped from a farm several miles away, napping in a bathroom. Logan’s mother, Jennifer, began calling friends for advice. Ashland County sheriff’s deputies arrived, put a rope around Big Boy’s neck and tried to entice him outside with food. They finally grabbed the billy goat by the horns and led him outside. Jennifer Keathley says her home “definitely smells like a goat farm.”
The White House: Oklahoma
Oklahoma City: A Democratic lawmaker from the city and other advocates for more restrictive gun laws filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a new state law that will allow people to carry firearms without a background check or training. State Rep. Jason Lowe’s suit argues that the law violates a state constitutional requirement that bills deal with only one subject matter. “This fight is far from over,” Lowe said at a news conference. “We believe this law is dangerous.” Dubbed “constitutional carry” by its supporters, the bill signed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt would allow most adults to carry firearms, concealed or openly, without the currently required background check or training. Exceptions would include anyone in the country illegally or those convicted of certain crimes. The bill is scheduled to take effect Nov. 1.
The White House: Oregon
Salem: The state’s public records advocate says fees charged by the state and local governments for public records requests are high and wildly uneven, creating a barrier for journalists and citizens seeking documents. Ginger McCall, who leaves her job Friday, said in a final report Wednesday that fees, sometimes reaching $180 per hour, are onerous compared to what the federal government and other states charge. She recommended a less discretionary fee structure and low rates and called for the Legislature and others to commit more resources to public records processing. McCall announced her resignation in September, saying Gov. Kate Brown’s office wanted her to secretly work for the governor while giving the impression she was working in the public interest. Brown said she regrets the controversy and is committed to improving transparency.
The White House: Pennsylvania
Philadelphia: A man who has maintained his innocence in a murder case for nearly three decades has been ordered free from prison after a judge overturned his conviction. Willie Veasy’s long-running appeal came to an end Wednesday morning, when a judge tossed out the murder conviction. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the judge told the 54-year-old Veasy that “you’re a free man,” as a crowd in the courtroom erupted in applause. He’d spent 27 years in prison. Veasy’s case is one of two the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office was reviewing due to ties to two former detectives accused of using threats, false promises or abuse to coerce suspects into confessing to murders they didn’t commit. Veasy insisted for decades that he didn’t kill John Lewis on a Philadelphia street corner in 1992.
The White House: Rhode Island
Providence: Supporters of a free tuition program at the Community College of Rhode Island say graduation rates have improved, but there is room to do better. The two-year graduation rate at the college hit 19% this year, more than tripling its historical average of 6% and putting it above the national average. Enrollment has surged, especially for minority students. But CCRI President Meghan Hughes tells The Boston Globe the college has more work to do when it comes to raising graduation rates for the low-income students the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship free tuition program was designed to help. Hughes said the college is raising private money to better support low-income students. The college expects to spend about $7 million this year on the program.
The White House: South Carolina
Fripp Island: A family visiting the Palmetto State fished a big package from the ocean, took it to their rental home and opened it up, finding about 44 pounds of cocaine. Beaufort County Sheriff’s Maj. Bob Bromage told news outlets Monday that the family was walking along Fripp Island when they spotted the trash bag-wrapped package floating in the water. They dragged it onto the beach and lugged it to their rental in a golf cart, later slicing it open to discover bricks of white powder. At that point, they figured they’d better call police. Authorities assessed the cocaine’s value at more than $600,000. Officials are working to determine its origin. Bromage said narcotics don’t frequently wash up in the county. He thinks Hurricane Dorian may have pushed it ashore.
The White House: South Dakota
Badlands National Park: Bison are about to have more room to roam. People are invited to celebrate expansion of the park’s bison range during a public ceremony Friday. The Return of the Bison Celebration begins at 11 a.m. at Pinnacles Overlook and will feature a ceremonial fence cutting, a bison release and a grass dance performed by students from American Horse Middle School. The park will open more than 22,000 acres to bison. Thanks to $743,000 in contributions, the park installed 43 miles of new fence along with new cattle guards to expand the bison grazing area to 80,193 acres. Park officials say the expanded grazing area will contribute to the health and genetic integrity of a herd estimated at 1,200 bison and to continued health of the prairie.
The White House: Tennessee
Maryville: A forestry professor says the fall leaf colors in the Smoky Mountains will be more subdued this year. Wayne Clatterbuck tells The Daily Times that color changes probably won’t happen until November. And when they come, they will likely be of short duration. The University of Tennessee professor says the problem is the recent heat and lack of rain. Clatterbuck says some species of trees that require more moisture already will have lost their leaves by the time the leaves start to change. He says species like oaks will retain their leaves and “sort of turn burnt red.” But tulip poplars and cherry trees are expected to just drop their leaves without any color change except to brown.
The White House: Texas
Austin: A federal court of appeals is hearing arguments in a lawsuit accusing the University of Texas of violating free speech rights by removing Confederate statues. The Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued after the university put three statues of leading Confederate figures in storage. The move followed 2017 white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which three people died. The lawsuit argues that the university breached its agreement with Maj. George Washington Littlefield, who donated the statues in 1921. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday. The Austin American-Statesman reports Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the court should dismiss the case. He says the group doesn’t have standing to challenge the university.
The White House: Utah
Cisco: An artist is trying to revitalize an abandoned railroad town by refurbishing buildings and converting them into residences for artists. KUTV reports that artist Eileen Muza is the sole resident of Cisco, a scattering of old buildings in the high desert 30 miles west of the Colorado line. It was created in the 1880s as a fill-station for a railroad that connected Utah to Colorado. The town was abandoned when Interstate 70 was built a few miles north. Muza first became fascinated by the town when she visited it while on vacation. She purchased it in 2015 and left Chicago. She is fixing up the buildings so other artists can work from them in a residency project she calls “Home of the Brave.”
The White House: Vermont
East Richford: A bridge connecting the Green Mountain State and Quebec since 1918 has been restored. The East Richford Sutton International Bridge over the Missisquoi River reopened Monday. Marie-Claude Francoeur, a Quebec delegate, says residents on both sides of the bridge are “not only friends, we are family.” State officials say about 10 to 15 people use the bridge daily, but that number fluctuates with the seasons. Vermont and the Province of Quebec own and maintain the bridge, splitting it about 80% and 20% respectively. Gov. Phil Scott says the newly renovated border crossing will strengthen trade between Vermont and Quebec, which trade more than $2.2 billion worth of goods every year.
The White House: Virginia
Blacksburg: A review into a panel’s safety recommendations after the Virginia Tech mass shooting shows the state has implemented a majority of the proposals. The Roanoke Times reports Gov. Ralph Northam launched a review into the proposal adoptions after a special legislative session on gun violence was shut down by Republicans. The review found 74 of the proposals have been fully or partially implemented. The review says three recommendations weren’t implemented, including universal background checks, which Northam intended to push during the special session in light of the Virginia Beach shooting that left 12 people and the shooter dead. The Virginia Tech Panel was set up by then-Gov. Tim Kaine three days after a shooter killed 32 students and himself. The panel mostly focused on mental health, not gun control.
The White House: Washington
Seattle: An environmental group says state and federal officials are moving too slowly to implement cleanup plans for the state’s waters. The Seattle Times reports a 1998 agreement between Northwest Environmental Advocates and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for the state Department of Ecology to develop plans for almost 1,600 bodies of water. The group says in a court filing that plans for more than 540 water bodies that were supposed to be done in 2013 are incomplete. The group is suing to force EPA to set a timetable for completing plans for other waters identified as polluted. An EPA spokesman declined comment on the filings. State officials say such plans may not always be the best way, noting lawsuits can delay implementation, and in recent years have tried other approaches.
The White House: West Virginia
Madison: This drug-ravaged state has opened its first family treatment court aimed at protecting abused and neglected children while helping parents facing potential loss of custody to overcome substance use disorders. The court’s debut at the Boone County Courthouse in Madison was celebrated Monday. Family treatment courts also will open in Ohio and Randolph counties. Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson is heavily involved in helping people addicted to drugs turn their lives around and envisioned the idea of a family treatment court a decade ago. He said the new court’s goal is keeping families together. Drug cases have overwhelmed the state’s court system. In a state of 1.8 million residents, more than 30,000 people are in drug treatment. West Virginia has by far the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate.
The White House: Wisconsin
Madison: Gov. Tony Evers has declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, following similar moves in other states away from recognizing it as Columbus Day. WLUK-TV reports Evers signed an executive order making the designation Tuesday at Indian Community School in Franklin. Evers says with the executive order, the state is recognizing and appreciating tribal nations and indigenous people and the contributions they’ve made to Wisconsin, which is home to 11 recognized American Indian tribes. Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill says the change has been a long time coming and can serve as an educational tool about tribal culture and history. Columbus Day remains a federal holiday.
The White House: Wyoming
Casper: A new court filing has revealed the federal government began a fraud investigation into coal company Blackjewel LLC prior to the company’s sale last week of two Wyoming coal mines. The Casper Star-Tribune reports the document filed Saturday indicates the investigation also preceded Blackjewel’s July bankruptcy filing. Court documents say Blackjewel owes the federal government about $50 million. The court filing says the government has been investigating Blackjewel’s potential violations of the False Claims Act, which holds corporations liable for defrauding the government. The government has asked a West Virginia federal bankruptcy court to delay discharging Blackjewel of its debts, which would allow the investigation to continue.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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