From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
Published 2: 51 AM EST Nov 5, 2019
Baby Health in Winter Alabama
Monroeville: The south Alabama courthouse linked to Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is receiving a preservation grant. The program Partners in Preservation says the old Monroe County Courthouse is receiving $125,000 to repair serious structural problems in a wall. Recipients were announced following an online vote. The 115-year-old former courthouse is now a museum that tells the story of Lee and fellow writer Truman Capote, who were both from Monroeville. Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book used the red-brick structure as the model for a pivotal trial scene in her story of racial injustice. The two-story courtroom was then recreated as a Hollywood set for the 1962 movie based on Lee’s novel. Partners in Preservation is a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express.
Baby Health in Winter Alaska
Anchorage: Leaders of the state Senate majority and minority say Attorney General Kevin Clarkson is violating the state constitution by not defending a law that encourages construction firms to use Alaska workers on state contracts. The Anchorage Daily News reports Senate President Cathy Giessel and Minority Leader Tom Begich, in separate letters, say Clarkson should be defending the law until it’s ruled on by a judge. Clarkson says he took an oath to defend the U.S. and Alaska constitutions. He says local-hire law violates those constitutions, and it makes sense to stop enforcing it. At the time of its passage, Alaska’s local-hire law was believed to be in accordance with the law, and it has remained in force for 30 years. A construction company challenged the law this year.
Baby Health in Winter Arizona
Tucson: In this city widely credited as the birthplace of the 1980s Sanctuary Movement – an effort by churches to help refugees from Central America and shield them from deportation – a group of activists is looking to revive that history of aggressively resisting immigration authorities. Voters will decide Tuesday whether to designate Tucson as Arizona’s only sanctuary city, a direct challenge to President Donald Trump and to the anti-illegal immigration law that put a spotlight on the state nearly a decade ago. Many in Tucson are eager to send Trump a message that disapproves of his immigration policies. But even some on the left worry the measure would merely draw the ire of the president and his allies in the Arizona Legislature without improving conditions for migrants.
Baby Health in Winter Arkansas
Little Rock: North Little Rock has its eyes on the future as the city builds upon its downtown district, but school district officials want to make sure it doesn’t forget the past when it comes to the Ole Main High School building, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. The North Little Rock School District recently announced plans to form a task force to provide direction to the Board of Education on how to preserve the historic building that is adjacent to the current high school, which opened in 2015. Board members will suggest one person each for the committee along with three at-large positions and one designated position for the North Little Rock History Commission. The task force will meet and report to the School Board. Board President Tracy Steele said he has already fielded numerous calls from people who want to be on the board.
Baby Health in Winter California
San Francisco: The start of the commercial Dungeness crab season will likely be delayed by a week to lower the risk of whales getting entangled in fishing lines. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said opening day of the season may be postponed from Nov. 15 to Nov. 23. The department said the earlier date presents “a significant risk” of whale entanglement. CDFW Director Charlton Bonham said fishing, environmental and management agencies were consulted before making the preliminary decision. The recreational crab season began Saturday. State health officials warned people not to consume the internal organs or guts of crab caught in two coastal areas due to the presence of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin that can cause vomiting or diarrhea when consumed.
Baby Health in Winter Colorado
Denver: A state legislative committee formed in the wake of a fatal shooting at a suburban school has proposed five bills that legislators hope will make schools safer. The Denver Post reports the interim committee didn’t introduce any bills on controversial topics, such as gun control or arming teachers, during its work following the May 7 attack on STEM School Highlands Ranch. Police, teachers and others told committee members that Colorado has good programs to prevent violence, but they aren’t used consistently statewide. Lawmakers also expressed concern about gaps and duplication in the state’s school safety programs. The committee’s draft bills approved last week for consideration by the 2020 Legislature include bills that would reorganize the Safe2Tell anonymous tip system and create a working group to continue studying school safety.
Baby Health in Winter Connecticut
Hartford: The leader of a coalition of cities and towns across the state says municipal officials are facing an “environmental crisis” of diseased trees, warning the first significant snowfall this year could bring down hundreds across the state, as well as thousands of tree limbs. Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Executive Director Joe DeLong sent a letter Thursday to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, seeking additional resources and help dealing with the fallout of trees infested and subsequently weakened by emerald ash borer beetles and gypsy moth caterpillars. Over the weekend, utility crews were restoring power to communities affected by a strong Halloween night storm that left behind numerous downed wires. In Marlborough, local officials say many of the limbs fell on power lines because the trees were too brittle to withstand the high winds.
Baby Health in Winter Delaware
Newark: Beginning early next year, the city’s police officers will be wearing one more piece of equipment: body cameras. At a Newark City Council meeting last week, council members approved a nearly $630,000 request for video equipment, including 60 body cameras. The devices cost about $350,000. The rest of the money will go toward replacing dashboard cameras in Newark patrol vehicles and updating video equipment in interview rooms. The $628,867.77 required for all the equipment, which will be provided by Axon, formerly known as Taser International, will be paid out over five years. Federal and state grants will cover $152,640, while the other $476,227.77 will be paid through Newark’s 2019-2023 Capital Improvements Program.
Baby Health in Winter District of Columbia
Washington: The mayor and the chair of the D.C. Council have nominated two people to represent the city on the regional transit authority board. The Washington Post reports D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson nominated former federal transportation official Stephanie Gidigbi to serve as one of the district’s two voting members on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser nominated Lucinda Babers, a deputy mayor for infrastructure. The board spots were vacated when Councilman Jack Evans and Corbett Price resigned their seats after an ethics scandal. Evans resigned this summer after a legal memo saying he knowingly violated board ethics became public. Price later resigned after he lied about the findings of the ethics probe. The full D.C. Council must approve the nominations.
Baby Health in Winter Florida
Orlando: A new report is recommending a new board, inspector general and ethics standards for the scandal-plagued Florida Virtual School. The Orlando Sentinel reports the recommendations released Friday by the Florida Department of Education also say Florida’s public online school needs to implement cybersecurity measures. The school had a data breach last year, and its former general counsel resigned following an investigation by the Sentinel that documented accusations of improper spending and behavior. Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers ordered a state takeover of the online school, which operates as its own $240 million public school district serving more than 200,000 students. All Florida public high school students are required to take at least one virtual class, and many choose the school as the provider.
Baby Health in Winter Georgia
Atlanta: A memorial service was held over the weekend to remember the victims of the Atlanta child murders in the 1970s and 1980s. WSB-TV reports dozens of people, including some family members of the victims, gathered for the service Saturday. The string of murders of mostly black boys terrorized the city between 1979 and 1981. The service included the lighting of candles, songs and a procession of hearses. “The pain is still here,” said Catherine Leach, who lost her son Curtis Walker 40 years ago. Wayne Williams was given two life sentences in 1982 for convictions in the deaths of two adults, thought to be among 29 black children and young adults killed. Police blamed him for the other killings but never charged him. There has been a renewed push to reexamine evidence in the case.
Baby Health in Winter Hawaii
Honolulu: An environmental advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against a federal agency for what it says is a failure to protect habitat for 14 endangered species on Hawaii island. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the Center for Biological Diversity says the failure to designate critical habitat for the plants and animals in a timely manner is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit names Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as defendants. The national organization says the Fish and Wildlife Service listed 15 plant and animal species in Hawaii as endangered in October 2013. The lawsuit says the agency was required under the act to designate critical habitat but has only done so for one of the protected species.
Baby Health in Winter Idaho
Boise: About 35,000 Idaho residents have signed up for Medicaid under expanded coverage in the first few days it has been offered. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said Monday that’s more than a third of the estimated 91,000 people who are eligible. The agency started taking applications Friday. Idaho voters authorized Medicaid expansion last year with an initiative that passed with 61% of the vote, but lawmakers earlier this year added restrictions requiring five waivers. Federal officials have yet to approve any of the waivers, but enrollment is proceeding with coverage starting Jan. 1. The expansion provides Medicaid to people earning up to a maximum of 138% of the federal poverty level. That maximum is about $17,000 a year for one person and $35,500 for a family of four.
Baby Health in Winter Illinois
Peoria: Officials at Bradley University are marking the first phase of a $100 million new business and engineering building. The (Peoria) Journal Star reports university officials dedicated the building in a Friday ceremony attended by hundreds. Officials say the building’s design will allow students to better collaborate with an open atrium and wide hallways. Crews are still putting the final touches on the 270,000-square-foot Business and Engineering Convergence Center as faculty and staff move in. Classes will start within a few weeks. The building will have 200 offices, dozens of classrooms and more than 40 specialized labs. Work is yet to begin on the second phase, which will include the building’s final wing and require demolition of the old engineer building.
Baby Health in Winter Indiana
Indianapolis: A state legislative panel is recommending that Indiana’s legal age for buying cigarettes be raised from 18 to 21. The Legislature’s public health study committee approved the recommendation last week after hearing testimony recently on the change that has failed to advance among lawmakers for several years. The Journal Gazette reports the proposed age change would cover both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Committee chairman Sen. Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso says he doesn’t expect action until at least the 2021 legislative session, when a new state budget is considered, because Indiana cigarette tax revenue could decline with the change. Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville countered that the state might see a loss in tax revenue initially but will save on long-term health expenses.
Baby Health in Winter Iowa
Iowa City: The University of Iowa has developed a temporary card to allow students who lack other forms of identification to vote in Tuesday’s election. The card was created at the nudging of student government organizers committed to making voting more accessible to students in the wake of changes to the Iowa Code in 2017 requiring IDs at the polls. Student government collaborators are hopeful this week’s combined city-school election will serve as a test run for the temporary IDs, leading up to the 2020 presidential election. According to the Iowa secretary of state’s office, unregistered residents can vote on the day of an election by showing proof of residency and a school-issued photo ID – but that ID must include an expiration date. The UI’s standard student ID card does not include one, but the temporary cards do: Nov. 6, just one day after the election.
Baby Health in Winter Kansas
Topeka: Abortion opponents pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure in the state are meeting resistance from other anti-abortion groups. Two legislative committees have recommended that lawmakers consider the issue during the 2020 legislative session. The recommendations come as lawmakers try to determine how to respond to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the state’s constitution guarantees a right to abortion. Kansas News Service reports that at a hearing last week, some advocates pushed for a “personhood amendment” that would ban all abortions in Kansas. But some of the state’s largest anti-abortion groups say the personhood amendment is not practical. Anti-abortion legislators have generally deferred to Kansans for Life on abortion policy issues for more than two decades. That group argues that an incremental approach builds public support for greater restrictions.
Baby Health in Winter Kentucky
Grand Rivers: Officials say they’ve installed a riverbed bubbler and sound system in a lake as an experimental and environmentally friendly way to keep an invasive fish from spreading. The Paducah Sun reports federal, state and local officials are holding an event Friday to showcase the deployment of the bio-acoustic fish fence at Barkley Dam in western Kentucky. It will be evaluated over the course of the next three years, although officials hope to see some preliminary results next year. Several agencies in Kentucky and Tennessee are combining funding, technology or staff to help stop the spread of Asian carp. Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White says if the bio-acoustic systems proves effective, it will likely be used in other places to deter the spread of the fish.
Baby Health in Winter Louisiana
Lafayette: A volunteer search-and-rescue group says it has changed its name to avoid confusion with a similarly named organization whose leader is accused of taking money from a fundraiser meant for children. The director of Pinnacle Search and Rescue, formerly known as Cajun Navy 2016, told KADN-TV it sped up its name change when the president of a separate group called America’s Cajun Navy was charged with fraud two weeks ago. News outlets report the change also comes as its own president, Jon Bridgers, faces fraud charges after a homeowner said he agreed to do contracting work on a house but never finished. Pinnacle Search and Rescue director Ben Husser said some were confusing the two organizations. Both groups include private boat owners who assist rescue operations.
Baby Health in Winter Maine
Portland: Gun control advocates say they plan to keep pushing for tighter gun controls in Maine, despite the failure of a flurry of proposals to move forward during the coming legislative session. Democrats proposed several changes to the state’s gun laws for the session that begins in January, but the Legislative Council rejected most of them and tabled one. Proposals need the council’s approval to move on to legislative committees and the full Statehouse. Members of the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America say the proposals would’ve protected children from potential school shootings and gun accidents in the home. Republican Sen. Jeffrey Timberlake, who sits on the council, said the proposals didn’t rise to the level of emergency legislation, which is the purpose of the session.
Baby Health in Winter Maryland
Germantown: A decision by a county executive to ban a police station from displaying a “thin blue line” flag is drawing criticism from Gov. Larry Hogan. The wooden flag was a gift from a local resident in recognition of National First Responders Day. It was to be displayed in the 5th District Station. News outlets report that Democratic Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the flag provides a symbol of “support” to some but is a symbol of “dismissiveness” to others. The “thin blue line” flag has been labeled by some as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hogan, a Republican, said in a series of tweets Sunday that he was “offended and disgusted” that Elrich had prohibited officers from displaying the flag.
Baby Health in Winter Massachusetts
Wellfleet: A marine biologist is reporting a sharp rise in number of sunfish stranded on Cape Cod beaches. The unusual-looking migratory fish, which can grow to nearly 9 feet long and weigh thousands of pounds, can be found in mid- to late summer off the state’s coast. Marine biologist Carol “Krill” Carson tells the Cape Cod Times that a couple dozen or more are usually found stranded on beaches annually. So far, about 130 have been stranded this year. Carson says this year is “out of control,” noting the stranding season starts in mid-August and runs through ecember. She has a network of about 30 volunteers who assist her in returning the fish to the sea or taking tissue samples if it’s dead. The sunfish is capable of long migrations to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico in the winter.
Baby Health in Winter Michigan
Lansing: The state is lowering or eliminating fees assessed on people who register to use marijuana for medical reasons. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced last week that new rules are in effect. The application fee for a two-year registry card is now $40, down from $60. A $10 fee to update, replace, add or remove a caregiver has been eliminated. Caregivers, who supply patients with marijuana, will no longer have to pay a $25 background check processing fee. Marijuana Regulatory Agency Executive Director Andrew Brisbo says the state has worked hard to streamline the process for cardholders, not only lowering costs but also making it easier for patients to apply for and receive their cards.
Baby Health in Winter Minnesota
St. Paul: An enterprising college student who drove to Iowa every weekend to buy hundreds of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that he then sold to his own customers in the Twin Cities area has been warned by the confectionary giant to stop. There have been no Krispy Kreme stores in Minnesota for 11 years. Jayson Gonzalez, 21, of Champlin, Minnesota, would drive 270 miles to a Krispy Kreme store in Clive, Iowa, pack his car with up to 100 boxes of a dozen doughnuts, then drive back north. He charged $17 to $20 per box and said some of his customers spent nearly $100 each time. Gonzalez said he did not receive a discount from the store in Iowa. But less than a week after the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on his money-making scheme, Gonzalez received a phone call from Krispy Kreme’s Nebraska office telling him to stop. In a statement Sunday night, Krispy Kreme said it’s looking into the matter.
Baby Health in Winter Mississippi
Glendora: Men carrying a white nationalist flag were caught on security cameras trying to film in front of a new memorial to lynching victim Emmett Till. Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, says cameras captured the incident Saturday. Security footage from the commission shows the men, one carrying a neo-Confederate group flag, filming at the site. They are seeing running away when a security alarm sounds. Weems says he believes they were filming a propaganda video. Till was 14 when he was beaten and killed in 1955 after he whistled at a white woman. The memorial is at the site where Till’s body was pulled from a river. A bulletproof memorial to Till was dedicated Oct. 19 after the first three markers were vandalized.
Baby Health in Winter Missouri
Cape Girardeau: A program that helps young men reach their full potential is earning accolades from southeast Missouri leaders and members of the Legislature’s Black Caucus. The Southeast Missourian reports the Honorable Young Men Club provides mentoring for students in the Cape Girardeau School District, but its organizers hope to expand elsewhere. The program was begun in 2016 by four former Southeast Missouri State University football players, including one now with the Baltimore Ravens, Aaron Adeoye. The other three recently hosted a gathering to show the benefits of the program. The event was organized by former Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Co-founders say students who participate in the program have better grades, higher attendance and fewer suspensions than their peers.
Baby Health in Winter Montana
Billings: Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicate that Montana outpaces neighboring Wyoming when it comes to recreation economies. The Billings Gazette reports that based on data from 2017, the analysis puts Montana’s total outdoor recreation value at $2.3 billion, compared to $1.6 billion in Wyoming. This is the first national report to drill into state-by-state recreation economies. Rachel VandeVoort, director of the Montana office of Outdoors Recreation, said the state-by-state analysis is helpful in making decisions, such as investing in habitat, protecting public or private lands, or contributing funding to new opportunities. University of Wyoming economics professor Rob Godby attributes the disparity between the two states to Montana’s larger population and more urban areas, which means more businesses catering to hunters, anglers, skiers and bikers.
Baby Health in Winter Nebraska
Omaha: The Salvation Army’s annual Tree of Lights campaign is set to get underway in the area this week with the annual lighting of metal Christmas trees in front of American National Bank branches in central Omaha and in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In Omaha, hundreds are expected to gather Friday for the lighting of a 75-foot tall, 2-ton metal tree with more than 60,000 LED lights and 600 lit snowflakes, topped by a 6-foot star. The event features live music, food, reindeer and other Christmas-themed offerings. Across the Missouri River, the Salvation Army will also light a Christmas tree atop the American National Bank branch in Council Bluffs and serve refreshments. The lighting ceremonies kick off the Salvation Army’s red kettle bell-ringing drive.
Baby Health in Winter Nevada
Reno: A new commander has been chosen to lead Nevada’s 152nd Airlift Wing, also known as the “High Rollers.” Col. Jacob Hammons, an F-16 pilot from Las Vegas, replaced Reno native Col. Eric Wade during a change-of-command ceremony Saturday at the Nevada Air National Guard base. “(I’m) excited, ready to get going,” Hammons said. The 152nd Airlift Wing includes 1,016 airmen, most of whom serve one weekend a month and two weeks each year as traditional guardsmen in a reserve force that supports the federal government overseas, according to the Nevada Air National Guard. The unit provides tactical airlift worldwide and expeditionary combat support. It also operates the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, which transforms cargo aircraft into firefighting air tankers.
Baby Health in Winter New Hampshire
Concord: Fifth graders across the state are heading to the polls this week to elect the next “Kid Governor.” This is the second year the state has participated in a national civics program aimed at encouraging civic engagement by teaching students about the history of voting rights, the qualities of good leaders and the mechanics of campaigns. More than 450 students in six New Hampshire schools participated last year, selecting Lola Giannelli, of Nashua, as their first Kid Governor. She has spent the past year promoting efforts to protect animals from abuse. The seven candidates hoping to succeed her have platforms that include topics such as bullying, underage tobacco use, and college and career awareness. Voting started Monday and ends Nov. 12.
Baby Health in Winter New Jersey
Trenton: Nearly a third of the state’s lawmakers also work in other government jobs with payments that not only increase their pensions but also raise ethical questions about whom they serve when they cast votes in the Legislature, an investigation finds. The 37 lawmakers holding more than one government job or contract racked up nearly $2.7 million in additional taxpayer income beyond their $49,000-a-year Statehouse salaries, the investigation found. Due to quirks in state law, longtime lawmakers can still pad their pensions even though a series of reforms in the past decade limited the plump payout for newer legislators. Good-government groups say so-called double-dipping creates an increased risk of conflict, potential favoritism and a drain on public dollars.
Baby Health in Winter New Mexico
Carlsbad: Members of this arid state’s congressional delegation are looking for ways to combat water scarcity here and across the West. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is blaming climate change for growing water scarcity, worrying that New Mexico snowpacks are getting smaller and unable to adequately feed the Rio Grande and the rest of the state’s groundwater supplies. He and other lawmakers last week introduced the Western Water Security Act of 2019. They say the goal is to strengthen New Mexico’s water infrastructure and focus efforts on conservation and the restoration of water supplies throughout the West. The latest federal drought map shows a big pocket of moderate to severe drought over the Four Corners region, where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet.
Baby Health in Winter New York
New York: The city’s police commissioner is retiring after three years, and a top deputy will succeed him as the leader of the nation’s largest police department, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. James O’Neill, 61, moved the police department away from controversial “broken windows” policies and oversaw continuing drops in crime. He will remain on the job until next month, when he leaves for a job in the private sector. Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, a 28-year department member who started as a patrolman in the south Bronx, will be the new commissioner. Shea rose to prominence as the department’s statistical guru, and de Blasio said he is “one of the best-prepared incoming police commissioners this city has ever seen.”
Baby Health in Winter North Carolina
Raleigh: A treasure hunter who accuses the state of misusing his images from Blackbeard’s flagship says he’ll ask for 10 times the damages he originally sought, now that a court ruling has come down in his favor. John Masters of Intersal Inc. says he plans to seek $140 million in damages from North Carolina following the ruling Friday from the state Supreme Court that the case must return to Business Court. He said an expert witness had put Intersal’s losses from the state’s use of more than 2,000 images and more than 200 minutes of film at $129 million. He’s seeking another $11 million for losses over a permit that the state denied him, which would have allowed Intersal to search for a Spanish ship. Almost a quarter-century ago, Masters’ father discovered the wreckage of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground in Beaufort, in what was then the colony of North Carolina, in 1718.
Baby Health in Winter North Dakota
Bismarck: State wildlife officials say the number of tags issued for the upcoming deer hunt is up by about 10,000. The Game and Fish Department says about 67,500 deer tags have been issued. Wildlife division chief Jeb Williams says the deer population is trending up in western North Dakota, while the eastern part of the state has been slower from the rough winters of 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Bismarck Tribune reports Williams says there are fewer acres idled under the federal Conservation Reserve Program than a dozen years ago, which means less habitat. In 2018, 64% of tag holders harvested a deer, a little below the department’s benchmark of 70%. The season opens at noon Friday and ends Nov. 24.
Baby Health in Winter Ohio
Columbus: The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame will honor 20 veterans at this year’s annual induction ceremony. Members of the 2019 class will be inducted Thursday at the Radiant Life Church in the Columbus suburb of Dublin. Gov. Mike DeWine and Deborah Ashenhurst, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, will honor the class with medals. Officials say the public is invited to the 10 a.m. ceremony. Former Gov. George Voinovich established the Hall of Fame in 1992 to recognize outstanding professional achievement, service to the community and selfless acts of veterans following their military service. Honorees include astronauts, volunteers, community leaders, veteran advocates and former government officials, among others. The 2019 class joins 875 Ohio veterans inducted since the Hall of Fame was created.
Baby Health in Winter Oklahoma
Oklahoma City: More than 400 inmates walked out the doors of prisons across the state Monday as part of what officials say is the largest single-day mass commutation in U.S. history. Monday’s release of inmates, all with convictions for low-level drug and property crimes, resulted from a bill signed by new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. The bill retroactively applied misdemeanor sentences for simple drug possession and low-level property crimes that state voters approved in 2016. Stitt has made reducing Oklahoma’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate one of his top priorities and has appointed reform-minded members to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board. The board last week considered 814 cases and recommended 527 inmates for commutation. However, 65 are being held on detainers, leaving about 462 inmates to be released Monday.
Baby Health in Winter Oregon
Salem: A timber investment firm is selling more than 3,000 acres along the Columbia River that has been used to grow poplar trees. The Capital Press reports Greenwood Resources had used the land to grow poplar trees for the U.S. paper industry, but experts say international competition and a low profit margin have made that difficult. Poplar plantations arose due to steep logging declines on federal land in the Pacific Northwest as paper companies worried about acquiring sufficient wood chips to run their plants. But that shortage never materialized, and efforts to grow larger poplar trees for use in furniture construction were stymied by competition from alder wood. Alder trees grow naturally in Pacific Northwest forests and don’t need to be grown on plantations, making them cheaper.
Baby Health in Winter Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh: After four years of testing, the Pennsylvania Turnpike says it plans to move ahead with a $129 million project to become a completely cashless toll system in two years, eliminating hundreds of toll-collecting and auditing positions along the way. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that “the goal is to have the system completely cashless by the fall off 2021.” Toll booths will still be at some exit ramps until 2026 to record E-ZPass signals or photograph license plates so bills can be mailed to drivers. The jobs of the 600 remaining toll collectors and toll auditors will be eliminated, but officials say they will have the opportunity to move into other turnpike jobs or to take classes at the turnpike’s expense.
Baby Health in Winter Rhode Island
Providence: Gun safety advocates want the state’s family court judges to require more domestic abusers to surrender their firearms. A report released Monday shows 34% of domestic abusers are being ordered to surrender their weapons in final orders of protection. That’s an increase from 5% before a 2017 state law regarding firearm surrenders took effect. In cases where a defendant is ordered to surrender firearms, 36% filed an affidavit – as required under the law – to prove they no longer have the weapons. The report was compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. Besides court files, it relies on observations of trained volunteers who monitored 289 domestic violence protection order cases between October 2018 and May 2019. Some judges disagree about how the law should be interpreted.
Baby Health in Winter South Carolina
Charleston: State authorities are looking into the finances of Emanuel AME Church, which received millions in donations after a racist attack left nine worshippers at a Bible study dead in 2015. The Post and Courier reports State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Tommy Crosby confirmed the investigation last week but declined to elaborate. The church’s former secretary, Althea Latham, says she spoke to SLED agents recently about the handling of those donations. Latham has long contended that her contract wasn’t renewed less than two months after the shooting because she questioned processing and transparency surrounding the money that was coming in. Church leaders have said her contract simply wasn’t renewed. Latham hopes accountability will resolve lingering suspicions over the donations.
Baby Health in Winter South Dakota
Sioux Falls: Feeding South Dakota is launching its yearly Thanksgiving Meal Drive as the nonprofit aims to help thousands of families who couldn’t otherwise afford the holiday. Givers who are looking for a way to help can donate food or money to Feeding South Dakota through Nov. 23. The nonprofit hopes to distribute 3,400 turkeys and meals to families across South Dakota on the Saturday before the holiday. Donors Greg and Pam Sands will match any online financial donations up to $15,000. A $20 gift is enough to pay for a turkey dinner for a family of four, according to Feeding South Dakota. People can make financial donations online or by phone at 605-335-0364, ext. 126.
Baby Health in Winter Tennessee
Ashland City: Neal Ryder was growing produce in part to make his own baby food for 3-month-old son Griffin when he grew a whopping 22.6-pound sweet potato. Ryder says he didn’t realize a sweet potato could grow that big and didn’t consider himself a record-setter “by any means,” but he might have done just that. Guinness World Records shows that the heaviest sweet potato in the world was grown in Spain in 2004. It weighed 81 pounds and 9 ounces, according to Guinness World Records and the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. Though Ryder’s sweet potato is a fraction of the world record, it could make Tennessee history. Last year, an East Tennessee woman grew a sweet potato that rang in at nearly 14 pounds. News reports from that time claimed it was a record.
Baby Health in Winter Texas
San Antonio: The mesquite, an iconic tree in the Lone Star State, provides a blessing and a curse, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Ranch manager Farron Sultemeier notes its beans provide late summer feed for cattle and wildlife. But it spreads ridiculously fast and is almost unstoppably invasive. Texas mesquites also produce thorns sharp enough to injure livestock and puncture a car tire. And they grow so gnarly and twisted, the wood is virtually useless for anything other than imparting a bold smokiness to meat – a signature of Texas barbecue. But that soon may change with two new, improved varieties developed by California-based Altman Plants. These experimental trees grow erect, spineless and fast, while still being able to survive and thrive in the harsh, semi-arid climate of South Texas. Altman Plants recently shipped about 150 of its two experimental hybrids – dubbed Mojave and Sonoran – from California to the San Antonio nursery where they’ll be propagated. Specimens should be available for purchase within a year.
Baby Health in Winter Utah
American Fork: A VW bus painted like a black chalkboard is inspiring creative drawings and bringing people together in this city. No matter where he parks the “chalkbus,” owner Jonathan Sherman says he comes back to find great new art adorning the sides. The Daily Herald reports that the story behind the bus inspired a documentary by college students at Utah Valley University. Sherman also lets bands cram into the bus to play music while he drives around town. Sherman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says the bus seems to provide something people are missing by connecting them. He takes it each year to the Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk in Salt Lake City and lets people draw on it there.
Baby Health in Winter Vermont
Bennington: A private boarding school in New Hampshire has made a bid to buy a closed Vermont college. The Bennington Banner reports the head of Oliverian School in Pike, New Hampshire, and the board chairman of the former Southern Vermont College confirm the private school has offered $4.9 million for the 371-acre campus and buildings in Bennington. “We feel that our students and faculty would thrive here,” says Will Laughlin, head of Oliverian School. Southern Vermont College officials said the closure last spring after graduation was due to a decline in enrollment and related debt issues that face other small colleges in the Northeast. According to Oliverian School’s website, it’s an alternative college preparatory boarding school for adolescents who have not thrived in traditional settings.
Baby Health in Winter Virginia
Richmond: A Catholic congregation of religious women that serves the elderly is leaving the state after 145 years. It’s the seventh time in six years that the congregation has pulled out across the country because fewer women are joining the order. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Little Sisters of the Poor has about 30 locations in the U.S. and others in more than 30 countries. Its mission is to serve the elderly in nursing homes around the world. It came to the Richmond region in 1874. The order announced last week that it would be leaving St. Joseph’s Home in Henrico County. The 11 sisters who are leaving don’t yet know yet where they’ll go. But they could be sent to any home in the world that’s run by the religious order.
Baby Health in Winter Washington
Olympia: State officials are notifying voters of a registration error that could affect about 1,000 people attempting to cast a ballot in the state election scheduled for Tuesday. The Seattle Times reports officials have contacted voters by phone and email after detecting a problem with voter registrations submitted through Washington’s health plan website. The website provides a voter registration option for people enrolling in health or dental coverage and transmits the information to the Secretary of State’s Office. Officials say the Washington Health Benefit Exchange underwent a system upgrade in August that caused some voter registration information to be transmitted to the wrong account in the state system. Officials say the Secretary of State’s Office discovered the registration error last week and fixed the problem by Thursday evening.
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Charleston: A wildlife official says a monthlong series of fall tours to see elk drew visitors from eight other states. Chief Logan State Park naturalist Lauren Cole told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that 227 people went on the sold-out tours in September and October. The elk were at the nearby Tomlin Wildlife Management Area and were imported from Kentucky and Arizona. They’re part of a Division of Natural Resources effort to restore the species to the state. Cole says elk were seen on 19 of the 20 tours. She attributed the one tour where elk weren’t seen to a group of hunters who were pursuing raccoons with dogs. Cole says visitors also saw deer, wild turkeys, rabbits and a black bear. The tours also were offered last year.
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Madison: The University of Wisconsin-Madison is using rolling robots to deliver food. The school entered into a contact with Starship Technologies this summer to get access to a fleet of 30 robots that resemble coolers on wheels. The robots can navigate sidewalks autonomously, although human controllers can take over at a moment’s notice. Students and faculty can order food from several university restaurants through a Starship app on their phones and watch the robots’ progress as they travel to their address. Users will get an alert when the robot arrives. Each delivery will cost $1.99. That money will go to Starship Technologies. The robots began deliveries Monday on the campus’ north side. University officials hope to expand service campuswide once the robots have mapped the entire area.
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Cheyenne: Gov. Mark Gordon says he is open to the state pursuing a nuclear waste storage facility, though he doesn’t personally believe it’s the best industry for Wyoming. Gordon told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s editorial board last week that if a good reason can be found for such an industry in Wyoming, and it has adequate safeguards, he’s not going to stand in its way. The governor says he will wait to see what the Legislature finds in its studies of the idea before making a decision. This week in Casper, the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee will consider a bill authorizing the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Energy Department to store spent nuclear fuel rods within the state.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports