Montgomery: A recycling center that employs adults with intellectual disabilities should have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to its workers, federal labor officials said. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that employees were rightfully owed $540,000. Montgomery Arc and two of its partners – Hanan Center and McInnis Recycling Center – will now pay $541,597 in back wages to 80 employees, federal officials said. The deal is part of a settlement between the organizations and the federal agency, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports. The organizations were supposed to provide services to the employees in exchange for paying them less than minimum wage, the newspaper reports. But the agency found that it failed to provide services required by federal guidelines.
Anchorage: More than two dozen tribal groups oppose a federal land-use proposal that could open large areas of wilderness to future mining in rural Alaska. The opposition is in response to a proposed Bureau of Land Management update to its resource management, The Anchorage Daily News reports. The Bering Sea-Western Interior Resource Management Plan covers 21,094 square miles in Alaska’s western and interior regions. The agency announced its preferred proposal in March, known as Alternative C, which would make mining an option on nearly all the land in the plan. The proposal would increase available mining land from the current 13,594 square miles established in the 1980s.
Flagstaff: All students in the Flagstaff school district will be provided with iPads under a loan program that starts this week with middle and high school students and continues with elementary school students at the start of the next school year. Flagstaff Unified School District voters in 2018 approved a bond measure to provide $10.6 million to pay for the tablets, cases and other accessories. The district won’t require students to use the iPads, but officials say opting out could affect the potential of classroom learning, the Arizona Daily Sun reports. Students and their parents have been asked to sign a new loan agreement, to review an existing agreement on responsible use of technology and to pay a nonrefundable $25 annual device protection plan fee. Scholarships for the fee are available for families in need.
Fort Smith: The director of the Crawford-Sebastian Community Development Council says up to $200,000 may have been stolen from the organization that provides financial assistance, housing and food to the needy. The Times Record reports that CSCBC director Marc Baker said improper invoices had been submitted for vendors that had already been paid. The newspaper said Baker last week reported “anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000” of duplicate invoices since July. Fort Smith police spokesman Aric Mitchell said an investigation into Baker’s allegation would likely begin Monday. Baker said he contacted the FBI because the funds include money from two federal grants, but he was referred to Fort Smith police. The agency’s website says it provides services such as housing, food, utility payment assistance and dental programs to low-income residents in about a dozen western Arkansas counties.
San Diego: Homeless people facing a ticket or arrest by San Diego police could have the infractions cleared if they agree to stay for 30 days in one of the city’s shelters, according to a report. The program could help stabilize lives and get people connected with services, while also allowing officers to enforce laws on the street, San Diego police Capt. Scott Wahl told the Union-Tribune. The San Diego Police Department launched a neighborhood policing division in 2019 that includes outreach teams and officers who enforce quality-of-life laws that often involve homeless people. Last summer, police began offering shelter beds in lieu of citations to homeless people who had been contacted for encroachment, illegal lodging, littering or other minor infractions. But while about 300 people took the offer, many left the shelter within a day or two, Wahl said.
Denver: The state is starting off 2020 with plenty of snow in the mountains. Mountain snow moisture statewide is 122% of the usual amount for this time of year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. High-country snow moisture is up 30% compared to this time last year. All areas measured by the federal agency have above-average snow moisture. Early-season snows boosted snowpack in the northern part of the state. Snow has fallen in southern ranges more recently, evenly boosting snowpack levels statewide, the Denver Post reports. Light mountain snow is forecast in northern Colorado in the days ahead. Much of Colorado’s mountain snow moisture accumulates in late winter and early spring.
Fairfield: The state and AT&T have signed a deal designed to improve cellular service on the Metro-North commuter rail line. The agreement, announced Friday, gives the telecommunications company access to the right-of-way along the rail line, where the company plans to install a series of small cell nodes. Gov. Ned Lamont says that will provide better cellular coverage and higher data speeds for train passengers. The Democratic governor also announced that 132 recently purchased rail cars will be designed in partnership with industry experts and equipped with rooftop antennas that amplify 4G and 5G signals in the train.
Dover: Authorities who launched a two-day sting in response to a rash of shootings in the capital city say they seized guns and drugs. The operation targeted Dover’s Capitol Park neighborhood, where there were four shootings in the last two weeks of the year, Delaware State Police spokeswoman Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said. A drive-by shooting on New Year’s Day also injured two teens. No arrests were made, but Jaffe said authorities seized a loaded Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol, a black “tactical-style” ballistic vest and a loaded assault rifle, as well as 656 baggies of heroin. Police said in a news release that officers had learned the contraband was being hidden on state and county land. The effort involved more than 60 troopers and law enforcement officers from multiple other agencies.
District of Columbia
Washington: The district saw one of the nation’s highest numbers of bank branches close in 2019, WTOP-FM reports. Only New York and Chicago saw more closures than the 57 last year in the D.C. market, according to MagnifyMoney. As more Americans use digital and mobile banking, firms are looking to save on overhead and earn on real estate by closing down expensive physical branches. An increase in mergers may also be to blame, WTOP reports, with the FDIC pegging such mergers as at a 17-year high.
Tallahassee: State health officials say there were nearly 3,400 hepatitis A cases in 2019. According to statistics through Saturday, there were 3,395 cases – including 63 new cases reported the prior week. To underscore the outbreak, the Panama City News Herald reports the state totaled 1,175 reported cases of hepatitis A in the five previous years combined – with 548 of those cases in 2018, according to state Department of Health data. Hepatitis A can cause liver damage and is spread through such things as fecal matter. That can include transmission by people not properly washing their hands after going to the bathroom and contaminating food or drinks. Health officials urge people to get vaccinated against the disease. As of Saturday, Pasco County had the most cases in the state in 2019, with 414.
Macon: Terry Patterson plans to run a dozen marathons in 2020 as he keep logging road race miles at the age of 65. Patterson, of Macon, ran his first marathon, the local Cherry Blossom Road Race, in 2002. He began entering more races and hasn’t stopped. In fewer than two decades, Patterson says, he’s completed 83 marathons in all 50 states. He estimates the total distance he’s run during road races exceeds 10,000 miles. “I do get a lot of accolades for how old I am,” Patterson told WMAZ-TV. “And I do brag about how fast I can run.” He’s showing no signs of slowing down. Patterson ran a 3-hour, 52-minute marathon in Seattle last fall. In April, he qualified for the Boston Marathon. He’s signed up for 12 marathons this year and hopes to add his first race overseas in China. His first marathon of the new year will be closer to home, at nearby Robins Air Force Base on Jan. 18.
Hilo: The Big Island geothermal power station that was knocked offline by a volcanic eruption hopes to produce lower-cost electricity under a new agreement with a state utility, company officials said. Puna Geothermal Venture and Hawaiian Electric Light Co. are seeking approval of an amended power purchase agreement submitted last week to the state Public Utilities Commission. Hawaiian Electric said Puna Geothermal agreed to sell electricity from its restored and enlarged facility, the state’s only geothermal power plant, at a reduced price that would save a typical residential customer $7.50 to $13 a month. Puna Geothermal is working to resume normal operations after the Kilauea volcano eruption that began in May 2018 and destroyed more than 700 homes in lower Puna. Lava destroyed the company’s substation and covered geothermal wells, while cutting off road access.
Boise: A federal agency has ordered a company to pay four employees tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime and travel time after the company violated labor laws. An investigation by the U.S. Labor Department found that Intermountain Concrete Polishing paid employees straight-time rates for all the hours they worked, including workweeks that exceeded 40 hours, the Idaho Statesman reports. The company also failed to record or compensate employees for travel time when they worked several hours away from their homes, officials said. The Meridian-based floor polishing company must pay $47,676 to four employees for violating overtime and record-keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal officials said.
Chicago: The state will stop collecting fines against drivers who are ticketed after cameras catch them violating red lights, Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Monday. She said poor and minority motorists appear to be most affected by the $100 tickets, which can double if not timely paid. She also noted a federal investigation of relationships between some communities and a red light vendor. The new policy starts Feb. 6. “This system is clearly broken,” Mendoza said. “I am exercising the moral authority to prevent state resources being used to assist a shady process that victimizes taxpayers.” A 2012 state law allows local governments to use the comptroller’s office to collect debts. Unpaid traffic tickets, for example, can be deducted from tax refunds. Mendoza said communities can hire private debt collectors instead.
Indianapolis: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis set an attendance record during 2019, breaking a mark that had stood for a decade. The museum had just over 1.3 million visitors last year, topping its 2009 record by about 8,300 people, officials said. Ten years ago, the museum’s attendance was boosted by a King Tut exhibit and the opening of an Egypt exhibit. In 2019, special exhibits included “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” and “PAW Patrol Adventure Play.” The new mark also comes after the museum, north of downtown Indianapolis, opened its $24.5 million outdoor Sports Legends Experience in 2018. Museum CEO Jeffrey Patchen says it strives to provide fun and imaginative exhibits that appeal to all, from children to grandparents.
Waterloo: A business lobbying group is trying to halt the city’s new ordinance that is supposed to help convicted felons find work. The Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed a petition for injunctive relief against the city in Black Hawk District Court on Friday, arguing cities don’t have the authority to pass laws like Waterloo’s. The “ban the box” ordinance prevents companies from including a question on applications about whether prospective employees have been convicted of crimes. But in its petition, the ABI points to a 2017 Iowa law that bans cities and counties from passing some business-related ordinances. The local governments can’t preempt federal or state rules about business practices like benefits and hiring practices. The Legislature passed the law because some county officials – including those in Polk County – wanted to raise the minimum wage.
Topeka: Psychiatrists are so hard to come by in some rural parts of the state that doctors from outside its borders now commonly treat patients through video conference. Kansas, like the rest of the U.S., is seeing an increase in patients seeking mental health treatment. The state can’t find enough doctors, nurses and therapists to treat them, and providers say the problem is worse in the state’s least-populated rural areas. The Kansas News Service reports the High Plains Mental Health Center in northwestern Kansas has long struggled to attract psychiatrists for patients in its 20-county coverage area. Executive Director Walt Hill stopped even trying because it typically took him more than a year to fill a position. Attracting psychiatric nurses is hard, too. So Hill turned to providers who conference in from Kansas City, Missouri; Texas; and Oklahoma.
Olive Hill: Carter Caves State Resort Park is offering more than 200 activities at its Winter Adventure Weekend this month. Among the activities during the four-day event are cave tours, winter survival, rappelling, ice climbing and guided hikes. There will be 243 workshops and field trips offered for people ranging from beginners to advanced winter adventurers, based on difficulty and skills required. Registration is $20 per person, with additional charges for some field trips and workshops. Registration is available online or, pending availability, at the site. The event is set for Jan. 23-26. The park is in Olive Hill and has a lodge with a restaurant, cottages and campground.
New Orleans: A new high school is preparing students for careers in coastal protection and restoration, anticipating a future with ongoing climate change and sea level rise. New Harmony High School opened in fall 2018 and currently serves about 100 south Louisiana students. Besides their traditional classes in math, literature and history, New Harmony students take science classes that tackle environmental issues. The school currently has grades nine and 10, with plans to expand to 11th and 12th grades. The state charter school’s mission is intricately tied to the state’s future. A multitude of issues from the leveeing of the Mississippi River to oil and gas development have made Louisiana ground zero for coastal land loss. The state estimates it has lost just over 2,000 square miles of land – a tract about the size of Delaware – since 1932.
East Machias: Atlantic salmon laid a record number of eggs in the East Machias River last year, according to a conservation group that tracks the species’ status in the wild. The fish are considered endangered in the U.S. by the federal government, and they only appear in a handful of Maine rivers. The Downeast Salmon Federation said the high number of eggs shows that efforts to bring them back in Maine’s river systems are working. Biologists counted 61 of the nests the fish build for spawning in the East Machias River. The Downeast Salmon Federation’s executive director, Dwayne Shaw, said that’s six times the number counted in the river since the federation started tracking the fish’s egg nesting patterns two decades ago. The federation counted only 10 of the nests in 2018, the Bangor Daily News reports. That was about an average number. The nests carry about 4,000 eggs each.
Greenbelt: Residents, civic associations and local governments in counties that would be crossed by a proposed high-speed, magnetic levitation train linking Baltimore and Washington say they are weighing options to fight the plan. The Washington Post reports the city of Greenbelt is among those opposing the so-called maglev project. Last month, the city issued a request for services to attorneys and law firms willing to take on the fight. Other options being weighed to oppose the $10 billion plan include lobbying lawmakers and organizing protests, the newspaper reports. Critics say the train would offer little benefit to communities it will pass through because it would only stop in Washington, Baltimore and the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Opponents are worried about construction impacts. But supporters say it will ease traffic congestion, create jobs and boost economic development.
Boston: A group of families in the state is fighting a recent court ruling that found au pairs should be treated as employees entitled to minimum wage. An organization called Au Pair Families of Massachusetts is planning to lobby for legislation in the Statehouse on Wednesday, the Boston Globe reports. A federal court ruled Dec. 2 that au pairs in Massachusetts were entitled to earn state minimum wage and overtime, which could raise host families’ costs by as much as $333 per week. Many host parents agree au pairs should have additional protections but argue the new changes will make the program less accessible in a state that has some of the nation’s highest child care costs. The au pair program, overseen by the U.S. State Department, was launched as a cultural exchange program in which young people live with families in other countries while helping with child care and some housework. Host families paid at least $197 a week for a maximum of 45 hours of work before the ruling.
Detroit: A statue of the robot featured in the 1987, Detroit-set film “RoboCop” is nearing completion ahead of its debut at a science museum. Organizers of the Kickstarter campaign website who crowdfunded Robocop for the city posted some photos last week with an update of the statue with a note that its final form is coming “later this winter” at the Michigan Science Center, The Detroit News reports. Organizers wrote in the update that the statue is 11 feet tall “with his head on” and that his stainless steel base weighs half a ton. “He is big, he is clean, he is bronze, he is perfect,” they wrote. It has been almost a decade since the idea came about. A Twitter user, who tagged then-Mayor Dave Bing in a tweet, noted that Philadelphia has a statue of another movie icon, Rocky Balboa, and that RoboCop would be a “GREAT ambassador for Detroit.” The campaign that launched in 2012 raised $67,436 from more than 2,700 backers worldwide. Since then, Giorgio Gikas, one of Detroit’s premier sculptor conservators, has been creating the work.
Sherburn: A rural veterinarian who has taken in dozens of miniature horses since they were seized because of maltreatment says she wants to be paid for caring for them for a year and a half. Shirley Kittleson says the bill for their care has topped $325,000. Kittleson filed a lawsuit last month against the Humane Society and Watonwan County for nonpayment. Kittleson was asked to care for the herd of 72 after the Animal Humane Society and Watonwan County sheriff seized the horses from a farm in Odin in June 2018. The farm’s owner, Michael Johnson, was convicted of two counts of animal neglect. Watonwan County told Kittleson soon after she sent them a couple of monthly bills that the horses were the responsibility of the Humane Society. Kittleson said she could find new homes for the horses, but the Humane Society won’t release the herd, according to the Star Tribune.
Jackson: As the 2020 Legislature prepares to convene Tuesday, the future of hemp in the Magnolia State is hazy. There were a few attempts to legalize hemp production in the 2019 session, but all failed. Now, as farmers in surrounding states are already cultivating and selling hemp, Mississippi remains one of only three states where production is illegal. A task force on hemp production met three times last year and weighed pros and cons of the issue. Farmers crowded into a room in the Capitol to hear about a new crop they might soon plant. Agricultural experts explained the benefits and hardships of growing hemp without taking a hard stance on the issue, but law enforcement officials on the task force were deeply critical of hemp legalization. The task force ultimately produced a report that included these findings, though it doesn’t include a recommendation on whether to legalize hemp. Last year, the House passed a bill legalizing hemp production. That bill stalled in the Senate.
St. Louis: A memorial to soldiers downtown has been damaged by vandalism, including a spray-painted message of “No war.” The vandalism was discovered Sunday morning. It wasn’t immediately clear if it was in response to the airstrike that killed a top Iranian official, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, an attack that’s drastically raised tensions between Tehran and Washington. About 150 people marched through downtown St. Louis on Saturday in opposition to further military action against Iran. The Missouri Historical Society’s director of marketing and communications, Leigh Walters, said it is sad that “anyone would deface a memorial to those who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country.” The memorial opened in 1938 to honor World War I soldiers and reopened in 2018 after a two-year, $30 million renovation.
Big Sky: Gallatin National Forest officials are warning backcountry enthusiasts to take extra care after three snowmobilers escaped injury in a weekend avalanche near Big Sky. Forest forecaster Alex Marienthal said in a Sunday advisory that the snowmobilers were caught Saturday in a 1,500-foot-wide, 4-to-6-foot-deep slide on Buck Ridge. Marienthal says similar avalanches have broken naturally on sugary and weak layers hidden deep inside snowpack in recent days. More can be expected. Backcountry visitors are urged to avoid slopes that are wind-loaded with snow and to avoid steep slopes that may hide persistent weak layers of snow. Two snowmobilers were killed in a Jan. 1 avalanche near Lake Dinah, northwest of Seeley Lake. The West Central Montana Avalanche Center had issued an avalanche warning for the area after more than a foot of heavy, wet snow had fallen overnight.
Lincoln: A state lawmaker concerned about prison overcrowding plans to propose building a new 300-bed work release facility in Omaha. State Sen. Steve Lathrop tells the Omaha World-Herald he’ll introduce a bill calling on the state to begin planning a new community corrections facility. Building the new facility could cost more than $40 million, but Lathrop’s bill would only require the state to plan for the new work release facility. Nebraska’s prisons currently hold 2,006 more inmates than their design capacity of 3,535 inmates, putting the prison system at 157% of its design capacity. Lathrop says the state is facing a prison overcrowding crisis and needs to address the issue. A consultant recommended expanding Omaha’s community corrections prison in 2014, but the project was never done. Lathrop says work-release facilities can help better prepare inmates to return to society.
Wells: A historic hotel damaged in a 2008 earthquake is getting restored. The El Rancho Hotel and Casino in Wells is expected to see a new life after the small Elko County town received grants to fix it up. The city has secured funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant program and the Nevada Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation to help restore the property. Restoration is estimated to cost about $500,000 to the city as well. City manager Jolene Supp says the payoff will be worth it. The city plans to reopen the building as a community center, restaurant and small-business incubator. Originally a hotel-casino and later a community center and banquet hall, the El Rancho served the town of 1,200 since it was built in 1949. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit Wells in February 2008, damaging hundreds of structures in town, including the hotel.
Concord: This year’s New Hampshire Women’s Rally will feature speakers on reproductive health, climate, immigration, and electing women to office from the bottom to the top of the ticket. The fourth annual rally is scheduled for Jan. 18 outside the Statehouse from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. It’s called “March on the Polls.” Some of the groups at this year’s event will be Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund; the NH Women’s Foundation; Equality Health Center; NH Sierra Club; Granite State Progress; Rights & Democracy NH; NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy; and MomsRising. More details can be found on Facebook.
Island Beach State Park: Officials hoped they would collect 200 discarded Christmas trees to bolster dunes at the park but have received 10 times that amount. State Department of Environmental Protection officials, who operate the park, said they collected some 2,000 Christmas trees Saturday during a drop-off event. DEP officials say the trees help catch sand and support the dunes, which provide protection to the island during storms. The dunes also provide habitat for about 400 plant species and numerous types of birds. The island is made up of nearly 1,900 acres of dunes and beaches and remains one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier island beaches in the northeastern United States, according to state officials. Now, state officials are looking for volunteers to help move and place the Christmas trees into specific dune areas. Volunteers and state workers will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers must pre-register online.
Santa Fe: Native Americans go without medical insurance at a much higher rate than the state’s other residents, according to a state-commissioned study from the Urban Institute that explores gaps in medical insurance coverage by race and ethnicity as well as age, location and education level. New Mexico fares relatively well overall in terms of paid access to health care services in comparison with the U.S. as a whole. The study found that 187,000 non-elderly residents go without health insurance – about 10.5% of the state population. The national average is just over 11%. Among Native Americans, 37,000 people go with insurance – or 16.2% of the population. Health insurance coverage also is relatively scarce in the northwest area of the state that is home to the Navajo Nation. The Urban Institute found that Native Americans working in the health care and educational fields are especially prone to go without health insurance.
New York: Throngs of demonstrators joined by elected officials walked solemnly across the Brooklyn Bridge in a solidarity march Sunday against anti-Semitism and all acts of hate. The “No Hate, No Fear” march was organized by New York’s Jewish community in the wake of recent anti-Semitic attacks, including a knife attack at a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City that left five people wounded and a fatal shootout at a kosher grocery in Jersey City, New Jersey. The crowds of participants, thousands strong, jammed the streets in lower Manhattan as they waited their turns to get across the bridge. “It is wonderful that we are doing this and sad that we still have to do it,” said Claudia Stoller, 31, of Manhattan. “But it was never lost on me that the Jewish community could always be targeted and should always be ready to be strong.”
Asheboro: The North Carolina Zoo says it had a record-setting number of visitors in 2019. The zoo has announced it saw 917,309 visitors in 2019, a record and 85,000 more than in 2018. “We are thrilled to welcome so many guests from North Carolina and around the world to our zoo,” Zoo Director Pat Simmons said. “We have plans to keep improving our programs and guest experience so that even more people can enjoy the zoo in the future.” The facility says it is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. It is home to more than 1,800 animals and 52,000 plants.
Bismarck: Officials say high winds caused a power outage that led to a produced water and oil spill in Dunn County. The state Department of Environmental Quality was notified Monday of Sunday’s spill at a salt water disposal facility operated by Hunt Oil Co., about 8 miles northwest of Halliday. Officials said the equipment failure caused by the power outage led to multiple tanks overflowing. Initial estimates indicated about 27,720 gallons of produced water and 15,540 gallons of crude oil overflowed the tanks. Most of the spill was contained on site, but winds blew some of the material onto pastureland. Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas development. It is a mixture of saltwater and oil that can contain drilling chemicals.
Cleveland: Records show the Cuyahoga County prosecutor is on track to send about 100 children to adult court to face criminal charges for the second consecutive year, a practice criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio as being unnecessary in most cases. As of mid-December, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court records indicate 99 teenagers had cases bound over to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in 2019, cleveland.com reported. Nearly 9 in 10 of those juveniles are black, records show. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, whose jurisdiction includes Cleveland, said many of the juveniles his office prosecutes as adults previously were charged in juvenile court and then committed more crimes. O’Malley, a Democrat who took office in January 2017, told cleveland.com in October that he does not apologize for trying to keep the community safe.
Oklahoma City: A judge facing a felony charge of failing to file her state income tax returns has been removed from presiding over criminal trials. The Oklahoman reports Oklahoma County Judge Kendra Coleman was reassigned Friday by Presiding Judge Ray C. Elliott to handle victim protective order requests and mental health cases. Coleman is facing a felony charge for failing to pay state taxes in 2017, was admonished by the state Supreme Court for failing to pay her taxes and more than 60 parking tickets, and has been found in contempt by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Coleman’s attorney, Joe White, has called the felony indictment “false on its face,” saying the taxes were eventually paid. The judge’s attorney has also said the contempt citation must be more specific about the allegations against her.
Salem: The state’s correctional facility for girls and young women had among the highest rates of sexual victimization in 2018, according to a federal report. In the report, 42 girls and young women at Albany’s Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility were surveyed; 14.3% reported being sexually victimized in 2018. That’s more than twice the national average of 7.1%, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Oregon Public Broadcasting says the report does not distinguish sexual abuse reports in individual facilities made against staff versus those made against other youth. Other Oregon facilities above the national average include St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Beaverton at 11.1% and the Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass at 10.3%. All other Oregon juvenile facilities fell below the national average. The National Survey of Youth in Custody conducted the report.
Philadelphia: Michael Fitzpatrick, a former congressman from suburban Philadelphia who served four terms in the U.S. House before handing off the seat to his brother, died Monday morning after a long battle with melanoma, his family said. He was 56. “Michael Fitzpatrick passed away peacefully this morning, surrounded by family, after a long and arduous battle with melanoma,” Fitzpatrick’s family said in a statement released by county Republican Party officials. Fitzpatrick, who also served as a Bucks County commissioner, worked during his time in Congress to establish the Washington Crossing National Cemetery. He decided against running for a fifth term in 2016. His brother, Brian, a former FBI agent, ran instead and won and continues to hold the seat. Fitzpatrick, of Levittown, is survived by his wife and six children.
North Kingstown: The annual Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show in Quonset Point will resume in 2020 after having been canceled last year because of troop deployments. This year’s show is scheduled for June 27-28 at the Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown, the National Guard announced Friday. The air show debuted in 1992 and has been canceled twice – once in 2013 because of federal budget cuts and last year due to a large number of deployments within the Rhode Island National Guard. Officials said they expected more than 500 troops to be deployed last year during the traditional time frame of the air show. Officials say this year’s show will include an F-22 Raptor demonstration, the U.S. Air Force Academy Jump Team, a World War II heritage flight and the Geico Skytypers.
Florence: Authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of an airport public safety officer officer in Florence. A man shot and killed the officer Sunday morning during a traffic stop at Florence Regional Airport, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a news release. Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken identified the victim as Jackson Ryan Winkeler, 26, of Dillon, WPDE-TV reports. The suspect, 37-year-old James Edward Bell, initially fled but was later captured by Florence County deputies, officials said. Winkeler also volunteered with the Latta Fire Department, which lowered its flag to half-staff Sunday.
Sioux Falls: A company has awarded holiday bonuses its 120 employees likely won’t forget. Myrl & Roy’s Paving gave its workers $10 million in bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 depending on length of employment and job duties. One of the owners, Sue Unzelman, says they wanted to thank the employees for their hard work and loyalty. “It’s something we really wanted to do, reward their loyalty, their stick-to-it-ness,” she says. “I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the reactions, the tears in the room.” Unzelman and her siblings are selling the second-generation company to L.G. Everist, a rock mining company with pits and quarries in the region. Myrl & Roy’s Paving began over five decades ago after Myrl Unzelman and Roy Schultz left their jobs in a road construction business and bought a $500 dump truck, a rake and a shovel.
Nashville: The latest design plans for the city’s most ambitious development project reveal a complex new downtown district anchored by Amazon’s office campus and an entertainment district similar to L.A. Live. The 25-story Grand Hyatt hotel will be the first tenant to open in the fall in the 17-acre Nashville Yards development. Two office towers for an Amazon operations hub are also well under construction. But most of the site work is still either in the preliminary stages or has yet to begin. San Diego-based Southwest Value Partners expects to spend $1 billion to create the district in the next few years. The entire project, which includes new street designs with pedestrian plazas, stretches from Broadway to Church Street. It will be fronted by a 1.3-acre park along the railroad tracks running through the Gulch.
Lubbock: Police say a man who shot at a police officer early Sunday was then fatally shot when two officers returned gunfire. Police say in a news release that 30-year-old Drew Nichols Wallace-Flores was killed in the shooting in a southwest Lubbock neighborhood. Police say the officers were investigating a report from a resident of seeing a man on security video checking vehicle door handles in the neighborhood shortly after 5:30 a.m. Sunday when the man fled as one officer arrived. Police say the officer gave chase on foot, and as the second officer arrived, Wallace-Flores fired at the first officer, and both officers returned fire, killing Wallace-Flores at the scene. The names of the officers were not immediately released. Police say both are on paid leave pending an investigation into the shooting.
Provo: The state’s number of drug overdose suicides has potentially been underreported by 33%, according to a new study. Published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, the study came to the conclusion after looking at 2,665 overdose deaths from 2012 to 2015 in Utah, the Provo Daily Herald reports. Paul Nestadt, one of the paper’s authors, says the nation’s opioid epidemic has clouded suicide classification across the nation. “If you work in mental health, it is pretty clear there is a lot of overlap in the symptoms of someone who is using opiates and someone who may be suicidal,” Nestadt said. State health officials say roughly 630 Utahns die from suicide and about 4,570 attempt suicide every year. Utah’s suicide rate is above the national average, causing the deaths of 22.7 per 100,000 people in 2017, compared to a national rate of 14 people per 100,000. According to the study, that rate could be significantly higher.
Brattleboro: Leaders of a hospital that is a critical provider of psychiatric and addiction services in the Green Mountain State say the facility faces the possibility of sale or closure amid a disagreement with state officials over funding. Brattleboro Retreat serves more than half the people in Vermont who need psychiatric care, and it provides all of the child and adolescent psychiatric care in the state, according to its chief executive officer, Louis Josephson. Michael Smith, secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Human Services, says he has rejected a request for an additional $2 million in funding from Brattleboro Retreat. That request would be in addition to a financial package valued at an estimated $16 million for new beds and a recent rate increase valued at an estimated $3.5 million per year, he said.
Fredericksburg: A cancer patient says her faith in humanity has been restored after she received thousands of pieces of mail from around the world this holiday season. The Free Lance-Star reports Jean Lee, 61, hoped a few cards would help as she battled the depression of ongoing treatments for a cancer with which she was first diagnosed in 2003. So the Stafford County woman posted a request on Facebook, asking people to tell her about their lives and hometowns. That led to a segment on a Washington TV station, and her story continued to spread. Lee said she received a package from Antarctica, a scarf from England, Kona coffee from Hawaii and a clock-jewelry box made by inmates at a Tennessee correctional facility, who paid $25 to ship it to her, the newspaper reports. “When I say this whole experience has given me hope, that’s coming from a woman who was very jaded,” Lee told the newspaper.
Spokane: The city is planning to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid utility bills dating back two decades as it looks to upgrade its payment software. The proposal would forgive more than $450,000 in payments and late fees accrued by 174 ratepayers during the years 1999 to 2013. The Spokesman-Review reports a city official says those payments would be legally difficult to recoup. Nonpayment of utilities, including charges for trash collection, sewer and water services, can result in late fees, liens placed on a property and termination of service. But the debt that is being considered for forgiveness may have been incurred by businesses no longer located in the area or residents who died or moved away. Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm says she wants to make sure city officials have done everything to secure payment before writing the debts off.
Charleston: The state has announced its initial slate of events for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The yearlong commemoration will start Wednesday with a reception ahead of the governor’s state of the state address, Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office said. Women will wear early 1900s-style clothing at the event. Other events throughout the year include a documentary showing, a lecture series, a gala, a women’s suffrage march at Marshall University and more. Events are being posted online on Warner’s website and through a social media account. Warner is leading a coordinating committee to plan events for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Milwaukee: A driver shot and wounded two children who threw snowballs at a car, police said. Officers who responded to a shooting report Saturday night on the north side of Milwaukee found the injured children and gave them first aid until they were taken to a hospital. The children are a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. Both suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, police said in a news release. Investigators say they’re looking for the driver of a white Toyota who fired at the kids.
Jackson: An operation to kill the mountain goats that have invaded Grand Teton National Park and threaten the existence of the park’s struggling bighorn sheep herd began Sunday, officials say. A large swath of the high Tetons, including the north and west slopes of the iconic Cathedral Group, will be closed to the public as aerial gunners contracted by the park spend up to a week locating and shooting at the approximately 100 goats, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. “We’re trying to be efficient and effective – so doing this as fast as possible in the most efficient way – and we believe that the aerial operations does that,” park spokeswoman Denise Germann said. She had no prediction about how many animals would be targeted but said it’s possible that at least one more week of aerial shooting will occur, depending on how this operation goes.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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