Montgomery: Amid a national debate over the use of pandemic relief funds, state lawmakers swiftly approved a plan Friday to tap $400 million from the American Rescue Plan to help build two supersize prisons, brushing off criticism from congressional Democrats that the money was not intended for such projects. The Legislature gave final approval to the $1.3 billion prison construction plan and to a separate bill to steer $400 million of the state’s $2.1 billion from the rescue funds to pay for it. With legislative leaders standing behind her, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bills into law soon afterward. The Republican called the construction plan “a major step forward” for the prison system, which faces various federal court orders and a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice. “This is a pivotal moment for the trajectory of our state’s criminal justice system,” Ivey said. Alabama’s plan to use almost 20% of its American Rescue Plan funds for prison construction drew criticism from Democrats including U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who argued that was not the intent of the relief program. But state Republicans argued that the expenditure addresses a public safety need and is allowed under a provision to replace lost revenue and shore up state services.
Anchorage: The state on Saturday activated emergency crisis protocols that allow 20 medical facilities to ration care if needed as Alaska recorded the nation’s worst COVID-19 diagnosis rates in recent days, straining the state’s limited health care system. The declaration covers three facilities that had already announced emergency protocols, including the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The state’s declaration also includes the other two hospitals in Anchorage and facilities across the huge but sparsely populated state. “Today’s action recognizes that Alaska has an interconnected and interdependent health care system, requiring the need for activation of the state’s decision-making framework,” the state health department said in a statement announcing the activation. “I want to stress that our health care facilities in Alaska remain open and able to care for patients,” said Adam Crum, the state’s health commissioner. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 1 in every 84 people in Alaska was diagnosed with COVID-19 from Sept. 22 to Sept. 29. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, which was covered by the state’s announcement, on Friday activated its own policy because of a shortage of beds, staff and monoclonal antibody treatments, along with the inability to transfer patients. “The move to Crisis Standards of Care is not something we take lightly,” Fairbanks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Angelique Ramirez said in a statement. “This is in response to a very serious surge of COVID in our community.”
Chandler: A helicopter and a single-engine plane collided in midair Friday near a suburban Phoenix airport, sending the helicopter crashing into a field and killing both people on board. The plane landed safely, and the flight instructor and a student inside were not hurt. The collision happened in the city of Chandler near its municipal airport, said police Sgt. Jason McClimans. He said no one on the ground was hurt. The Chandler Fire Department received reports of a fire in a brush field next to the airport shortly before 8 a.m. Crews found a large plume of smoke and the wreckage of the helicopter on fire but were able to extinguish it relatively quickly, fire officials said. They inspected the helicopter and found the bodies of the two people on board. The chopper was operated by Quantum Helicopters and the plane by Flight Operations Academy. Both are flight schools, according to McClimans, of Chandler Police. Richard Bengoa, owner of Flight Operations Academy, said the four-seat plane is used mostly for flight training. Though officials did not allow Bengoa to get close to the plane, he said it appeared from a distance that its landing gear had been damaged. He said he had no information about how the collision happened and was not allowed to speak with the instructor or student.
Bella Vista: The Bella Vista Bypass opened to the public Friday, marking the end to a decadeslong plan to link sections of an interstate in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The new roadway allows travelers to bypass Bella Vista, Arkansas, and connects 265 miles of Interstate 49 between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. Discussions began more than 25 years ago for the project, and construction began in February 2011. According to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, construction included six projects that totaled more than $220 million. “Whenever you look at what’s happening in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, our economy is boosting. But if we do not have this kind of investment in infrastructure, then we can’t keep growing our economy,” Hutchinson said. “While this won’t guarantee we’ll continue to prosper in the future, it sure means we’re not going to stymie the growth we already have.”
Yosemite National Park: A century-old building originally used as a laundry by Chinese workers at Yosemite’s iconic Wawona Hotel has been restored and turned into a visitor’s attraction, recognizing Chinese Americans’ contributions to the early history of the national park. Officials unveiled a new sign Friday marking the Chinese Laundry Building in Yosemite Valley, the Fresno Bee reports. New exhibits inside tell the story of Chinese workers who helped build Tioga Road and Wawona Road, critical infrastructure that made tourism to the park possible. The building – later used as a storage facility – is part of a cluster of structures that will make up the new Yosemite History Center, which will tell the histories of immigrants who made the park what it is today, said park ranger Adam Ramsey. “Chinese people have been a big part of communities throughout the Sierra Nevada for a really long time, and it’s about time that we started sharing that history here in Yosemite,” Ramsey said. According to research conducted by park ranger Yenyen Chan, in 1883 Chinese workers helped build the 56-mile Tioga Road in just 130 days. The stunning route across the Sierra Nevada reaches 10,000 feet in elevation and serves as one of the park’s main roads. Chinese workers were also employed in Yosemite as cooks, laundry workers and gardeners.
Aurora: A majority of officers from a suburban Denver police department that had faced investigations and community outrage over its run-ins with people of color reported disapproving of the police chief who has committed publicly to reforming the force and its reputation. Members of the Aurora Police Department’s two labor unions, the Aurora Police Association and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, voted in a poll last week that asked: “Do you feel confident in the leadership of Chief Vanessa Wilson?” The response was 442 votes against her to 16 in favor, the Sentinel Colorado reports. The vote comes less than a month after Attorney General Phil Weiser announced several Aurora officers and paramedics were indicted on manslaughter and other charges in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was put in a chokehold and injected with a powerful sedative. Weiser also announced last month that a civil rights investigation found the department’s patterns and practices indicated a history of racially biased policing. Doug Wilkinson, head of the Aurora Police Association, said the union vote was prompted by Wilson reopening an investigation into a May traffic stop of a Black man who said he was tackled and stunned with a Taser by police, who had “already been cleared of wrongdoing.”
Hartford: State officials announced a settlement Friday with Eversource over the electric utility’s response to last year’s Tropical Storm Isaias, which left thousands of people without power for days. Under the deal, Eversource has agreed to return $103.4 million to consumers and provide more accountability during future storms, Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong announced. Eversource also has agreed not to apply for a rate increase until at least January 2023, for rates that would not go into effect until at least January 2024, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said. The storm hit Connecticut on Aug. 4, 2020, with rain and high winds, leaving roughly 800,000 utility customers without power at its peak. Local officials complained that an inability to contact the utility made it difficult to tell residents when or where crews would be coming to restore power. Many towns did not see a utility truck for more than two days, and some people were in the dark for over a week. Under the agreement, $65 million in Eversource funds are to be immediately returned to customers in the form of credits on their December and January bills. The company said $10 million will be used to assist customers who are having difficulty paying their utility bills. The average customer will see a total credit of $35, the governor’s office said.
Wilmington: A Dover man who pointed a gun at counterprotesters during a campaign rally for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate last year has been convicted of two felonies. A jury convicted Michael Hastings on Thursday of first-degree reckless endangering and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony for pointing a gun at a group of protesters while attending a Lauren Witzke rally. The incident, which was caught on video by a protester, happened during a September 2020 rally in Wilmington. Witzke, who condemned the behavior, later lost to incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. “Pointing a loaded gun at anyone is always dangerous, full stop,” Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a statement. “The defendant’s actions seriously endangered his fellow citizens who were exercising their right to free speech, and he now faces the consequences.”
District of Columbia
Washington: The first Women’s March of the Biden administration headed straight for the steps of the Supreme Court on Saturday, part of nationwide protests that drew thousands to Washington to demand continued access to abortion in a year when conservative lawmakers and judges have put it in jeopardy. Demonstrators filled the streets surrounding the court, shouting “My body, my choice.” Before heading out on the march, they rallied in a square near the White House, waving signs that said “Mind your own uterus” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate,” among other messages. Some wore T-shirts reading simply “1973,” a reference to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Elaine Baijal, a 19-year-old student at American University, said her mother told her of coming to a march for legal abortion with her own mother in the 1970s. “It’s sad that we still have to fight for our right 40 years later. But it’s a tradition I want to continue,” Baijal said of the march. The demonstrations took place two days before the start of a new term that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by President Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court. “Shame, shame, shame!” marchers chanted while passing the Trump International Hotel, at which some booed and waved their fists.
Surfside: Personal property recovered from the destroyed units of a condo building that collapsed, killing 98 people, will be divided into two categories: soft material and hard material, according to a plan outlined before a judge overseeing litigation from the tragedy. Only the hard items collected from the rubble where the Champlain Towers South building once stood will be returned to survivors and family members of those killed, officials said in court documents. The moisture-absorbing soft items, including clothing and bedding, would cost millions of dollars to decontaminate per EPA guidelines, they said. Photos are the exception to the rule, as Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has made those a priority to return to survivors, said Michael Goldberg, a lawyer appointed to manage the legal interests of the Champlain Towers South. About $750,000 in cash was recovered from the ruins. Family members and survivors will be reimbursed somewhat quickly for cash that is easily identifiable because it was in a wallet or purse with an ID. The actual paper bills will be transported to the U.S. Treasury in Washington, where they will be destroyed since they are contaminated. They’ll be replaced with checks, according to court documents. But “we are going to have claims for cash that far exceed what is coming back,” Goldberg said.
Savannah: Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health records can’t be used as trial evidence by the white men who chased and killed the 25-year-old Black man as he was running in their neighborhood, a judge ruled Friday. The decision by Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley further limits defense attorneys’ efforts to portray Arbery as an aggressive young man with a troubled past when the case goes to trial soon, with jury selection scheduled to start Oct. 18. The judge ruled that Arbery’s medical privacy, even in death, trumped the rights of the men standing trial to a robust defense. And he concluded that a registered nurse’s “highly questionable diagnosis” that Arbery suffered from mental illness during his first and only visit to a mental health services provider in 2018 could unfairly prejudice a trial jury. “There is no evidence that the victim was suffering from any mental health issue, or had otherwise decompensated, on February 23, 2020,” the date Arbery was killed, the judge’s ruling said. Prosecutors say Arbery was merely jogging on that date when father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick, about 70 miles south of Savannah.
Honolulu: Gov. David Ige said Friday that he would extend emergency orders requiring masks and regulating travel amid ongoing concerns about high numbers of COVID-19 infections. Ige said his new proclamation would stay in effect for 60 days. The rules mandate masks in indoor public spaces. To avoid 10 days of quarantine upon arriving in the islands, travelers must show proof of vaccination or a negative result from a coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii. The governor said he was concerned that the seven-day average of new daily cases continues to exceed 300. He noted that while that’s down from late August, when the figure approached 900, it’s still higher than last year’s peak. He said he was watching closely whether hospitals have enough beds and staff to care for the sick, noting that Hawaii’s geographic isolation means patients can’t drive to neighboring states for health care if local hospitals are full. Earlier this year Ige had hoped to lift restrictions once 70% of the state’s population was vaccinated against COVID-19, but he said “everything changed” with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. As of Friday, 68% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated.
Boise: Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin has made public a collection of documents to journalists shortly after a judge again ordered her to reveal the records. The public records included feedback from the public regarding her newly created Education Task Force, which was tasked with investigating alleged “indoctrination” in the state’s public school system – something McGeachin said was necessary to “protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism.” Several journalists first requested copies of the public records months ago. But McGeachin’s office mostly denied the requests, telling some reporters it would cost them hundreds of dollars to access the materials and citing exemptions to Idaho’s public records law that didn’t apply to the documents. McGeachin also falsely claimed in public Facebook posts that the journalists were only seeking the records to encourage employers to retaliate against anyone who expressed concerns about the state’s public education system. In July, the Idaho Press Club sued McGeachin for the documents on behalf of Audrey Dutton and Clark Corbin with the Idaho Capital Sun, Blake Jones with Idaho Education News and Hayat Norimine with the Idaho Statesman.
Chicago: The death of an Illinois State Police trooper on an expressway has been ruled a suicide, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Saturday. An autopsy found District Chicago Trooper Gerald Mason, 35, died of a gunshot wound to the head, the medical examiner’s office said. The 11-year state police veteran died Friday afternoon shortly after the shooting on the inbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway on the city’s South Side, authorities said. “He was an amazing District Chicago trooper,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said during a news conference Friday evening. The trooper’s mother, Linda Mason, told the Chicago Sun-Times her son had wanted to be an officer since he was a toddler. He was a Chicago native who dedicated his life to policing, she said. “He was a sweetheart, and he loved everybody,” she said. “He just wanted to protect people and make this city and state better.” On Thursday, the Illinois State Police announced it would more than double patrols in the Chicago area beginning Friday in response to a surge in shootings on expressways over the past two years. There have been more than 185 shootings on expressways in the region this year, according to the agency, compared to a total of about 130 shootings last year and just over 50 in 2019.
Indianapolis: Republican lawmakers gave final approval Friday to their party’s redrawing of the state’s congressional and legislative districts, brushing aside objections that the maps give them an excessive election advantage and dilute the influence of minority and urban voters. The Indiana Senate and House both voted by wide margins without any Democratic support to advance the redistricting plan to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature. Political analysts say the new maps that will be used through the 2030 elections protect the Republican dominance that has given them a 7-2 majority of Indiana’s U.S. House seats and commanding majorities in the Legislature. Republicans maintain they followed federal and state laws to match population changes recorded by the 2020 census while avoiding splitting counties and cities among multiple districts as much as possible. Democrats and civil rights groups countered by pointing to the fragmenting of Fort Wayne’s large Black and Latino communities among three likely Republican Senate districts that will have rural white voters making up the majorities. Critics also argued that the cities of Evansville, Lafayette and West Lafayette were divided among rural, Republican Senate districts while their populations were enough for them to have districts of their own that would be competitive.
Cedar Rapids: A University of Northern Iowa biology professor who required that masks be worn in his classroom and threatened lower grades for students who refused has been relegated to online teaching and stripped of his eligibility for merit pay. UNI professor Steve O’Kane Jr. had circulated a resolution among his colleagues saying faculty should be allowed to manage their classrooms, pushing back against a state law banning mask mandates. Regents President Mike Richards in May barred administrators from requiring masks or vaccines. He’s maintained that position despite the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. O’Kane received a disciplinary letter from UNI College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences Dean John Fritch, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reports. Besides the loss of merit pay and removal from in-person classes, the letter requires O’Kane to complete training addressing his professional responsibilities as a faculty member – including following university policies – by Nov. 30. Despite the letter’s warning that he could be fired if he fails to comply with university policies on face masks, O’Kane said he will require masks again in the spring if he’s allowed to return to in-person teaching.
Topeka: Residents can now register to vote at the state agencies where they receive public benefits under an agreement with civil rights groups that brings Kansas back into compliance with federal election law, the governor said Friday. Kansas’ Department of Health and Environment and Department for Children and Families have expanded opportunities for residents wishing to register or update their voter registration. The agencies have also committed to providing resources to help them register. “Every lawfully eligible Kansan deserves an equal opportunity to cast his or her ballot in every election,” Kelly, a Democrat, said in a news release. “By sharing resources and expanding opportunities to get registered to vote, we will encourage more voices to be heard at the polls and more Kansans to exercise this important right.” The National Voter Registration Act, passed in 1993, requires voter registration assistance at state agencies providing public assistance benefits. Although the agencies may have been in compliance in the past, previous administrations allowed them to abandon those obligations, Kelly’s office said. To address those deficiencies, Kelly’s office has been working since November 2019 with voting rights advocacy nonprofit Loud Light, represented by the think tank Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, and the ACLU’s national Voting Rights Project.
Frankfort: Fresh off landing a record-shattering economic development deal with Ford Motor Co. that put Kentucky at the forefront of the green energy movement, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday launched a reelection run that will be tied to his aggressive actions to combat COVID-19 in his rapidly reddening state. Still two years away from voters delivering a verdict on his pandemic-plagued term, Beshear filed paperwork allowing him to raise and spend money on his 2023 reelection bid. The 43-year-old governor faces a bruising campaign in a state dominated by Republicans eager to rip into his coronavirus-related restrictions during much of the pandemic. In a social media post, the governor said: “There are so many challenges facing our Commonwealth. Kentuckians are counting on me to deliver, and I won’t let them down.” Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman will be Beshear’s running mate again in 2023, said Eric Hyers, the governor’s 2019 campaign manager and adviser to his reelection effort. Several Republicans are weighing bids to unseat Beshear in 2023, including former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, state Sen. Max Wise and state Rep. Savannah Maddox. State Auditor Mike Harmon already announced he’s in the race.
New Orleans: The state’s largest health system is ratcheting up pressure to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ochsner Health told employees it will charge them a monthly premium of $200 if a spouse or domestic partner covered under an Ochsner health plan is not vaccinated, The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reports. Ochsner has said all employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 29 to keep their jobs. President and CEO Warner Thomas said the surcharge for unvaccinated spouses and partners is part of an effort to keep health premiums low for employees. As a self-insured organization, Ochsner bears the cost of COVID-19 treatment for patients who are on its insurance plan. Unvaccinated people account for the vast majority of the health system’s COVID-19 patients. The vaccine fee for spouses and domestic partners will begin in 2022 and could deduct up to $2,400 yearly from the employee’s paycheck. Meanwhile, Louisiana is trying to encourage more people to get COVID-19 shots by offering them a cash incentive. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Friday that the state’s “Shot for 100” program, which has been offering $100 cash cards to college students who get vaccinated, is expanding to offer the money to anyone who gets newly immunized against COVID-19.
Augusta: Gov. Janet Mills’ administration submitted an application to the federal government Friday to lease about 15 square miles for a floating offshore wind research area. The Democratic governor has touted the project as the nation’s first such site in federal waters and a chance to chart a new course for renewable energy. Maine wants to deploy a dozen or so wind turbines on floating hulls designed by the University of Maine. The research site would be located almost 30 miles offshore. The Governor’s Energy Office submitted its application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The project “will help establish the best way for our state to embrace the vast economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind,” Mills said. Members of the state’s fishing industry have pushed back at plans for offshore wind off Maine. In response, Mills signed off on a prohibition of offshore wind projects in state waters in July.
Bowie: Six Flags America is scaling back hours during its annual Halloween events after a series of fights broke out over a recent weekend at the amusement park in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. A melee prompted the park to close an hour early Sept. 25, and the park said it would begin closing its gates at 9 p.m., news outlets report. Patrons won’t be allowed to reenter the park after 6 p.m., and no new entries will be allowed after 7 p.m., Six Flags said in a statement. Prince George’s County police confirmed that officers stationed at the park in Bowie responded to the fights and that several victims have filed reports but said no arrests had been made. Police and park officials said they meet regularly to discuss safety and security plans at the park and were reviewing plans late last week.
Boston: More than a year after they graduated, hundreds of Boston University alumni returned to campus Sunday for a belated commencement ceremony. The university hosted an outdoor graduation event for the Class of 2020, which never had an in-person commencement because of the pandemic. Nearly 2,000 graduates were expected to return for the ceremony at Nickerson Field, school officials said. The ceremony makes good, 17 months later, on the university’s promise that the May 2020 event had been postponed but not canceled because of COVID-19. The school said it’s enforcing public health measures including mandatory mask-wearing indoors. The university requires COVID-19 vaccination for all students and staff and said it’s “strongly encouraged” for visitors. Victor J. Dzua, president of the National Academy of Medicine, was slated to deliver a commencement address. The ceremony was one of several events planned as part of the university’s alumni weekend. Anyone who earned a degree from September 2019 through September 2020 was eligible to register for the belated commencement. The Class of 2021 had its own in-person commencement this year, although it was scaled back to meet city and state gathering limits.
Grand Rapids: The grand prize winner of ArtPrize is an old phone booth on a pedestrian bridge. Not just any phone booth, “Before You Go” allows people to listen to advice about life recorded by more than 100 local residents and others. The mother-son team of Monica Pritchard and Christian Reichle won the $50,000 prize Friday. “I’ve just had a passion for telling peoples’ stories in terms of business, and I’ve been sharing that with my son,” said Pritchard, who works as an executive sales coach. “Christian helped me make it come alive.” Pritchard said she and her son didn’t enter the competition to win it. “You pour your heart into something, and you don’t know how it’s going to go,” Reichle said. “To have the reception that we had, and then to win, is huge.” ArtPrize ended Sunday, but people still can experience “Before You Go.” The phone line where the messages are recorded can be accessed by calling (888) 665-2036. For 18 days, a variety of art was displayed in parks, museums, galleries, vacant buildings and other venues.
Isabella: The last remaining closure order related to wildfires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has now been lifted, according to Superior National Forest officials. A hot and abnormally dry summer caused extreme fire danger and prompted a complete closure of the popular wilderness area in northern Minnesota for a couple of weeks after wildfires broke out. The last remaining closure related to the John Ek and Whelp fires has now been lifted. Cooler conditions and recent rainfall have helped keep the fires in check. “We have not seen any smoke from the fire for a couple of weeks now, and we feel comfortable lifting this closure as this fire is unlikely to spread much, if at all,” said Patty Johnson, the forest’s East Zone fire management officer. The BWCA received 3 to 6 inches of rain in September, which is about normal for the month. But officials say over the longer term, the region remains in drought conditions, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. Fire crews have now removed all pumps, hoses and other equipment that had been staged for the John Ek fire. Meanwhile, to the south and outside the wilderness boundary, the Forest Service has scaled back the closure area around the Greenwood fire, which has reached 80% containment.
Jackson: The leader of a pediatricians’ organization is urging school districts to keep mask mandates in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Many school boards in Mississippi are removing mask requirements,” Dr. Anita Henderson of Hattiesburg, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Thursday on Twitter. “Kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated and only about 30% of all 12-17 year-olds in Mississippi are fully vaccinated. Now is not the time to let our guard down.” The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported nine pediatric deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The state saw a significant surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations starting in July, but numbers have decreased in recent weeks. In central Mississippi, the Madison County School District removed most of its mask mandate as of Sept. 24, making masks optional in most places but still required on buses. The district has about 13,000 students. The Rankin County School Board voted Sept. 22 to remove a mandate, saying that masks are now “not required but highly recommended” in the district with more than 18,000 students. The change in the central Mississippi district came weeks after some parents protested the mandate at a school board meeting.
Jefferson City: Several thousand Missourians who previously were not eligible for Medicaid are expected to seek the health care coverage now that voter-approved expansion of the program has taken effect. Friday marked the day the health care program began processing applications. Voters approved Medicaid expansion in August 2020. The constitutional amendment passed with 53% of the vote. Previously, the state’s health care program did not cover most adults without children, and its income eligibility threshold for parents was one of the lowest in the nation, at about one-fifth of the poverty level. The expansion is expected to add Medicaid eligibility for up to 275,000 low-income Missourians. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people have applied for Medicaid under the expansion. A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services said enrollment information for October won’t be posted until November. The expansion was the subject of a court case that wound up in the Missouri Supreme Court, where a July decision paved the way for the plan to move forward.
Helena: Most of the state’s Republican lawmakers are urging their leadership to appoint a special committee to investigate the security of the state’s voting system. The effort is led by GOP legislators who are pushing false theories of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, the Montana State News Bureau reports. Republicans hold a two-thirds majority in the Legislature. The letter, signed by 86 of the state’s 98 GOP lawmakers, was sent Wednesday to Senate President Mark Blasdel and House Speaker Wylie Galt and asks for a response by Oct. 6. Blasdel declined to comment Friday, and the bureau could not reach Galt for comment. The letter proposes forming a committee, whose membership also would be two-thirds Republican, to conduct hearings about the election process and security and decide if any new laws are needed. “Many of our constituents have reached out to us with questions about Montana election security,” the letter said. “All Montana voters must have absolute faith in our state, county and local elections.” Montana House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, said the Republican letter offers no evidence that there are any problems with the state’s election system. County election officials run fair and secure elections following state laws, Abbott said Friday.
Omaha: A state contractor that places Omaha-area children in foster homes, checks on their welfare and ensures their needs are met has been temporarily barred from taking any new cases because it’s struggling to fulfill the requirements of its contract. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services set the 60-day restriction on Kansas-based St. Francis Ministries on Thursday. State officials also granted the provider a probationary license as a child placing agency. The department said state child welfare workers will handle new cases in Douglas and Sarpy counties during the probationary period. The state will rely on existing staff members to manage cases and hire additional workers. State officials have said St. Francis has failed to meet several of its contractual obligations over the past two years and has faced major financial problems. State officials negotiated a new contract with the provider in January, about three weeks before St. Francis was expected to run out of money. St. Francis initially won the Nebraska job by offering to do it for $197 million over five years, less than 60% of the bid from PromiseShip, the Omaha-based agency that held the previous state contract. Nebraska lawmakers and child advocates raised concerns at the time, but state officials gave reassurances.
Las Vegas: People who are healing and some still struggling gathered Friday to remember those who died and were injured during the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history four years ago on the Las Vegas Strip. “I was wounded. Those physical wounds have healed,” said Dee Ann Hyatt, whose daughter also was hurt and whose brother died in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting. “But the lasting scars for our family remain.” Hyatt spoke to several hundred people during a sunrise ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas. She remembered her slain brother, Kurt von Tillow, a trucker from Northern California, before a screen at an outdoor amphitheater that displayed photos of the dead. Fifty-eight people were killed that night, and two others died later. More than 850 were injured. “We continue to live the impact of all that happened that night, four years later,” Hyatt said. “People thrive and people struggle to live with the physical and mental pain, and our lives are forever changed.” The morning memorial featured a song, “Four Years After,” sung by Matt Sky, that was composed for the anniversary by Mark R. Johnson and released with multi-Grammy award winner Alan Parsons.
Concord: A proposed rule that would severely limit remote instruction options for schools won’t go before the state Board of Education until November, but state officials already are advising districts to follow it. School districts currently can shift to fully remote or hybrid instruction for all students due to COVID-19 outbreaks. But under an administrative rule proposed by the Department of Education, schools would be required to provide in-person instruction five days per week except in cases of inclement weather or when a parent requests remote learning for an individual student. In an email to school leaders last month, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut instructed schools on how to comply with what he called the “recently advanced” rules, without describing the current rules. Schools are permitted to offer remote instruction to individual students who have contracted COVID-19, are required to quarantine because a household contact is infected or have other family circumstances that prevent in-person attendance, he said. “I think there’s a little bit of a shift that’s taking place because we’re not in the same circumstances we found ourselves in last year, so people have to shift their mindsets,” he said.
Leesburg: A corrections officer at a state prison in southern New Jersey was arrested Friday on charges he beat and humiliated inmates without provocation or justification, according to federal prosecutors. John Makos, 41, a Millville resident who works at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, was charged with conspiracy to deprive the inmates of their civil rights. He has been suspended from his job. From April through December 2019, prosecutors said Makos conspired with others at the prison to assault and punish certain inmates in a cruel and arbitrary manner by using excessive force that caused physical injury and pain. Prosecutors said Makos and at least one other corrections officer established an ad hoc regime of physical punishments for actual and perceived violations of the prison’s rules and customs and meted out the punishments in a cruel and degrading manner, at times with the aid of other inmates. Certain prisoners were singled out for brutal beatings, humiliation and assaults that only ended when the prisoner was close to passing out, according to a criminal complaint. In what was known to inmates as the “fence treatment,” prosecutors said Makos handcuffed a prisoner to a fence in the back area of the prison’s kitchen and the other arm to a swinging door, so the inmate would appear to be crucified.
Albuquerque: Hundreds of hot air balloons created a colorful tapestry against a blue sky Saturday, kicking off a nine-day annual event that was canceled last year due to the pandemic. The 7 a.m. mass ascension was the first of five scheduled for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which draws visitors from around the world. Two balloons hit power lines Sunday and caused a brief outage for more than 1,000 Public Service Company of New Mexico customers, who the company said were without electricity for a couple hours. No injuries were reported. Organizers of the fiesta said more than 540 balloons were registered this year. The 2019 event drew nearly 600 balloons from across the U.S. and 17 other countries. Organizers said they wouldn’t be checking for COVID-19 vaccination cards but noted precautions were being taken to preserve social distancing and provide access to hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations. Indoor dining for balloon pilots and VIPs was canceled. More than 80 balloons in special ornate or cartoonish shapes were disbursed throughout the launch field, rather than clustered together, encouraging crowds to spread out, fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity said. Scheduled events included a chain saw carving display, fireworks, sky divers, musical stage performances and a strolling mariachi band.
New York: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday denied an emergency appeal from a group of teachers to block the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public school teachers and other staff from going into effect. The teachers had filed for the injunction with Sotomayor on Thursday, in an effort to keep the mandate from going into effect Friday. Under the mandate rules, the roughly 148,000 school employees had until 5 p.m. Friday to get at least their first vaccine shot. Those who didn’t face suspension without pay when schools open Monday. Georgia Pestana, the city’s corporation counsel, said in a statement: “We are gratified by Justice Sotomayor’s decision. She made the right call on the law and in the best interest of students and educators.” Vinoo Varghese, an attorney for the teachers, said in an email: “We are disappointed, but the fight for our clients’ due process and those similarly situated will go on.” An original deadline earlier last week was delayed after a legal challenge, but a federal appeals panel said Monday that New York City could go ahead with the mandate in the country’s largest school district.
Raleigh: Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced agreement Friday on an energy bill that aims to meet Cooper’s goals on greenhouse gas reductions and gives dominant utility Duke Energy the ability to seek multiyear rate increases. The measure, which is expected to clear the Republican-controlled Legislature this week, removes most of the prescriptive actions that House Republicans laid out in an earlier version of the bill that passed the chamber in July. Instead, the new bill, largely negotiated between the Cooper administration and senators from both parties, directs the state Utilities Commission to come up with a roadmap by the end of 2022 on how to move toward goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that align with Cooper’s Clean Energy Plan. That plan seeks to reduce carbon dioxide levels from energy producers by 70% compared to 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The House plan would have contributed to a 62% reduction in power-sector greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade, according to an estimate by the commission’s public staff.
Bismarck: Gov. Doug Burgum and health officials said Friday that hospital capacity is reaching critical levels and urged residents to take action to help ease the crisis. State officials are urging the public to take a range of steps to help reduce hospitalizations, from avoiding high-risk activities to practicing defensive driving. The Bismarck Tribune reports COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state surpassed 160 on Friday for the first time in nearly 10 months, and the percentage of staffed hospital beds in North Dakota that remained available fell below 10%. “We all need to do our part to avoid hospitalization and prevent further strain on these facilities and their staff as we work through this incredibly challenging time,” said Burgum, a Republican. Hospital capacity has been a concern the past couple of months because of the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. The 161 patients listed on the Health Department’s virus dashboard Friday was the most since mid-December. The most recent state data showed 214 available staffed inpatient beds and 15 available intensive care unit beds statewide. North Dakota’s six largest hospitals on Friday reported 43 patients had been sent to other facilities, sometimes hundreds of miles away.
Columbus: The state doubled the amount of money for its new Vax-to-College program Friday to $2 million and plans to expand the age range to include children 5 and older once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for them at the end of the month. “This is the time for younger Ohioans to get the facts and to make the choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect themselves and others,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state health director, said during a press conference. The announcement comes as health officials across Ohio have been sounding the alarm about the rate of younger patients becoming sick and hospitalized with the disease. The overwhelming majority of those patients are unvaccinated. Vanderhoff detailed the changes in the new program in an effort to boost the number of vaccinations, which include increasing the number of $10,000 scholarships to 150 and the hope of expanding the age group to include younger Ohioans. Unlike under the Vax-a-Million program introduced in the spring, winners can put the money toward anything from college to trade school to other advancement opportunities. The program had initially targeted residents ages 12-25 who received vaccines but is now awaiting the FDA emergency use authorization for the Pfizer shot expected in late October to include 5- to 11-year-olds.
Oklahoma City: Students scored lower on standardized tests in 2021 following a year of disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The department reported 22.1% scored proficient in math, 24.8% in English language arts and 29.7% in science. The last testing, in 2019, found 31.9% proficient in math, 33.4% in English language arts and 34.5% in science. “The effects of the pandemic will be seen and felt for years to come,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “There is no quick fix.” The education department said Thursday that the number of students taking the tests declined following a year in which schools statewide adopted online classes or a blend of online and in-person classes due to the pandemic. The federal education department waived its requirement that at least 95% of students take the tests. The state education department reported 92% of students were tested in math, 92% in ELA and 91% in science. “We are asking schools and districts to engage in a deeper exploration of their data to understand who tested and who did not test while considering local context and variables,” said Maria Cammack, deputy superintendent for the state department.
Salem: The state’s attorney general filed lawsuits Friday against two counties that had adopted ordinances that sought to nullify new statewide gun safety laws and declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” In her lawsuits against Yamhill and Harney counties, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum asked the circuit courts in those jurisdictions to declare the ordinances “invalid and void” because they conflict “with paramount state law.” “Gun safety laws exist to help keep guns out of dangerous hands and keep people safe. A county commission simply doesn’t get to override state law in this way,” Rosenblum said. The ordinances, passed by county commissioners in the two counties earlier this year, did not apply to local, federal or state firearms regulations that were in effect as of last February. But they did encompass a bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor June 1 that mandates the safe storage of guns and bans them from the Oregon State Capitol and Portland International Airport. The new law, which went into effect Sept. 24, also allows public school districts, community colleges and universities to set their own policy banning guns.
Harrisburg: The deadline passed Friday for Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to comply with a subpoena from a Republican-controlled state Senate committee pursuing what the GOP calls a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election, as a state court sorted through three legal challenges. Wolf’s administration and Senate Republicans remained silent in the matter Friday. The court was expected to set up an expedited briefing schedule in one or all of the cases. Challengers, including Senate Democrats and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, have sought broadly to block the subpoena, saying it is an abuse of legislative power, and in particular have challenged its request for the driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of roughly 9 million registered voters. Republicans maintain they are attempting to find and fix problems in last year’s presidential election and this year’s primary election. Democrats accuse them of helping perpetuate baseless claims that former President Donald Trump was cheated out of victory. It’s not clear whether Wolf’s administration can be forced to comply with a Senate subpoena. Democrat Joe Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, according to certified results.
Providence: Gov. Daniel McKee said Friday that the administration would try to find new assignments for health care workers employed by the state who are refusing a COVID-19 vaccination. The state’s health care worker vaccine mandate took effect Friday, the day after a federal judge tossed a constitutional challenge to the requirement filed by four people who work in the health care field. Workers who don’t comply are at risk of losing their state licenses and jobs. McKee said during an appearance on WPRO radio that there are a “small amount” of holdouts, but he doesn’t want to put people out of work. “We might be able to put them in another department,” he said. “We don’t want people to be without pay or without health care coverage, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” He said he would also encourage hospitals and other health care organizations to take the same approach. He stood by the mandate. “We’ve made a policy that we feel as though is in the best interest of the safety of the people in the state of Rhode Island,” he told the station. Some unvaccinated workers will be allowed to work an extra 30 days beyond Friday’s deadline if their absence would compromise patient care.
Hunting Island: A 950-foot-long fishing pier at one of the state’s most popular parks – partially destroyed by Hurricane Matthew and closed for five years – has reopened, restoring an important public access to the Atlantic Ocean. The pier at Hunting Island State Park, 15 miles east of Beaufort, is in effect a sidewalk that extends three football fields from shore. It offers visitors front-row access to great fishing, wildlife viewing and solitude. When Matthew made landfall in October 2016, it caused extensive damage to Hunting Island, including the pier, making it unsafe and prompting its closure. “We’ve been waiting for this to open,” said Brian Gilfedder of Beaufort, who was fishing on the pier with his wife, Mary Lou, on a recent sunny afternoon. The new pier is wonderful, the Gilfedders said, echoing others who were fishing or just sitting on a bench, drinking in the ocean, last week as feeding dolphins thrashed in the shallows nearby. “When it was closed, we couldn’t fish,” said John Freeman, a St. Helena Island resident who lives at Eddings Point and been fishing from the pier for years. From the pier, visitors can see waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean onto the barrier island. Also visible from the pier: Fripp Island and “Little Hunting Island,” the product of a hurricane that breached a lagoon, cutting the beach in two.
Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem said Friday that she will relaunch the state’s review of social study standards after it was mired in controversy. The Republican governor said she has “set aside” the standards proposed by the Department of Education and told the department to restart the process, saying everyone who has expressed concern about the process, including Native Americans, will be included in the do-over. “Our kids deserve to learn both America’s and South Dakota’s true and honest history, taught in a balanced context that doesn’t pit our children against each other on the basis of race, sex, or background,” Noem said in a statement. New standards are released every seven years. The governor’s plan calls for a new workgroup of people from across the state to develop the standards. Members of the previous working group – appointed by the Department of Education – said in August that they were caught by surprise on Friday when the department released a document with significant changes that cut references to Native American history and culture. Conservatives have also criticized the Department of Education’s proposed standards.
Murfreesboro: About 1,450 people jailed illegally as minors can claim part of an $11 million class-action settlement, but fewer than 200 people have filed eligible claims. The lawsuit revealed the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center regularly locked up children for misdemeanor charges, including truancy, school fights and disobeying parents, plaintiffs’ attorney Kyle Mothershead said. The suit started by challenging the incarceration of children arrested at Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro before expanding to include other youth jailed at the detention center on minor charges. Tennessee law strictly prohibits the pretrial incarceration of children unless they are charged with a violent felony, weapons offense or probation violation, according to the complaint filed in July 2017. Under the terms of a June 2021 settlement, eligible plaintiffs will get $4,800 per illegal incarceration and $1,000 per arrest. The original plaintiffs will receive a larger settlement. They include Kazmere Watts, who’ll receive about $31,000 after he was incarcerated for seven days for a school fight. He punched another student, but that student wasn’t seriously injured. “That was the first time I ever got into trouble,” said Watts, who was a freshman in 2014. “I wasn’t trying to hurt him. You’re a kid. You do foolish stuff.”
Austin: A man seen on surveillance video wearing an American flag bandanna when he threw a Molotov cocktail into a county Democratic Party headquarters was arrested, a fire official said. Ryan Faircloth, 30, was booked Friday in the Travis County jail. He was charged with arson and possessing a prohibited weapon – the Molotov cocktail – according to Austin Fire arson investigator Capt. Jeffrey Deane. Investigators received multiple tips after releasing the surveillance video. One of the tips led to Faircloth’s social media. Information found online and other evidence led arson investigators and the FBI to make the arrest, Deane said at a news conference. “This person was not happy with the current political climate. He blamed this office and who they represent for a lot of the issues that he saw as problems with the country,” Deane said. “He was forthcoming and confessed to that.” Deane also said Faircloth left a note at the scene. He declined to give specifics on the contents of the letter but said the suspect alluded to possible plans for future attacks, which led investigators to act quickly to get him off the streets. It was unclear whether Faircloth had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Salt Lake City: The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged members Saturday to listen to the faith’s leaders when they seek “pure truth” and expressed gratitude for those who have followed church guidance on the pandemic, which includes getting COVID-19 shots. President Russell M. Nelson acknowledged at a church conference that the world is “still dealing with the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants.” And while he didn’t mention vaccines specifically, he thanked members for following the advice of church leaders, medical experts and government officials. The Utah-based faith has repeatedly encouraged its 16 million members worldwide to limit the spread by getting vaccines and wearing masks. “Contrary to the doubts of some, there really is such a thing as right and wrong. There really is absolute truth – eternal truth,” Nelson said from inside a mostly empty conference center in Salt Lake City. “One of the plagues of our day is that too few people know where to turn for truth. I can assure you that what you will hear today and tomorrow constitutes pure truth.” The two-day conference was taking place again without full attendance due to the pandemic, but for the first time in two years, leaders were back at the faith’s 20,000-seat conference center, with several hundred people watching in person.
Charlotte: A $6 million gift is going to the Vermont Land Trust to help diversify farm ownership, make farming more economically viable, and promote farming practices that contribute to clean water, healthy soil, and climate resilience, the High Meadows Fund, Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Community Foundation announced. A fund will be created with $2 million to expand land ownership and access among people who have been historically marginalized or oppressed based on their race or ethnicity, the groups said Thursday. According to the 2017 U.S. agriculture census, just 17 of the nearly 7,000 farms in Vermont are owned by Black people. “A gift of this kind could help all of us, particularly those who have been historically marginalized or oppressed,” Lydia Clemmons, president and executive director of the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, said in a statement. A total of $4 million will go toward expanding the land trust’s work “to put hundreds of farmers onto the land operating successful businesses over the next 10 years,” the groups said. The Vermont Land Trust and a diverse group of farmers and community leaders will be holding discussions on how to design and increase the $2 million fund to expand land ownership and access, the groups said.
Richmond: A child under the age of 10 died of COVID-19 on Wednesday in eastern Virginia – the second fatal juvenile case of the week in the region, health officials confirmed. A health department spokesperson, Larry Hill, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he could not provide any further information about the child, whose death occurred just two days after that of 10-year-old Teresa Sperry. According to officials, they are the 12th and 13th juvenile deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. Sperry, who was from Suffolk, started exhibiting severe symptoms Sept. 26 but was sent home from Sentara Obici Hospital after a chest scan came back clear. The next day, Sperry stopped breathing, her family told The Virginian Pilot. She was taken back to Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk. She was then transferred to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, where she died. Sperry’s death was officially recorded Thursday by the Virginia Department of Health but was widely reported by local news outlets Wednesday. Sperry’s mother, Nicole, wrote on Facebook that her daughter was tasked with walking sick children in her class to the clinic at Hillpoint Elementary School. Nicole Sperry said she attributes her daughter’s death to parents allowing their sick children to attend school.
Seattle: State correctional facilities will no longer place people in custody in solitary confinement as a punishment, after state officials determined it is not effective. The Washington Department of Corrections made the announcement Thursday, saying the policy has been in effect for the past two weeks, The Seattle Times reports. Corrections Secretary Cheryl Strange called it a historic moment in the department and a “key step in becoming a human-centered organization by advancing proven correctional practices and methods that support individuals in change.” She also said the practice has not been effective at deterring negative behavior. The agency collected data on the practice of isolating incarcerated people for punishment. It found that of 2,500 incidents in which people were subjected to disciplinary segregation from Sept. 1, 2019, through Aug. 31, 2020, most – 57% – were disciplined for nonviolent infractions. People who received disciplinary segregation on average spent from 11 to 16 days in isolation. Many had already been subjected to administrative segregation, which involves isolating a person for the safety of themselves or others, while their disciplinary hearing was pending. Most received credit for that time served in administrative segregation – which will remain in effect, officials said.
Charleston: Two fathers are suing state officials over a law that allows charter schools to open without the approval of local voters, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. The lawsuit filed this past week in Kanawha County Circuit Court claims the law is unconstitutional and asks the judge to stop a newly created West Virginia Professional Charter School Board from authorizing any schools. The suit comes after Republican state lawmakers in March amended an earlier charter school law, making it easier for them to win approval. The amendments created the Professional Charter School Board, which can approve both online charters that operate statewide and brick-and-mortar charter schools operating in individual districts. Those schools can be approved even in counties where the local boards of education are opposed to them. The Professional Charter School Board is unelected. Instead, members are appointed by the governor and then confirmed or rejected by the state Senate. The four proposed board members are currently awaiting confirmation, even as they review applications to open new schools. The two fathers who are suing over the new law are both public school teachers and teachers’ union members. Defendants in the case include Gov. Jim Justice and the leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate.
Madison: The former state Supreme Court justice leading Assembly Republicans’ probe of the 2020 election has sent subpoenas to election officials in Wisconsin’s five largest cities and the state elections administrator demanding information about private donations used to run voting operations. Michael Gableman sent subpoenas to election officials in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Kenosha and Racine as well as Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe. The subpoenas seek documents related to grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which gave more than $10 million to more than 200 Wisconsin communities last year to help cover election costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the money went to those five cities, drawing criticism from Republicans that the money was meant to boost turnout in Democratic areas. The subpoenas command the officials to appear before Gableman in Brookfield on Oct. 15 with their documents. A recount and court decisions have affirmed that President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes. Only four voters out of roughly 3 million who cast ballots have been charged with fraud.
Gillette: Books about sex, LGBTQ issues and how to have a baby have public library employees in a deeply conservative city facing possible prosecution after angry local residents complained to police that the material is obscene and doesn’t belong in sections for children and teenagers. For weeks, Campbell County Public Library officials have been facing a local outcry over the books and for scheduling a magician who is transgender to perform for youngsters – an act canceled amid threats against the magician and library staff. The books are “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson, “How Do You Make a Baby” by Anna Fiske, “Doing It” by Hannah Witton, “Sex is a Funny Word” by Corey Silverberg, and “Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy” by Andrew P. Smiler, according to Susan Sisti, a local pastor who has been raising concerns about those and other books in the library. “It’s really easy to go into the library and look around a little bit and find a filthy book that should not even be in a public library,” said Sisti, pastor of Open Door Church in Gillette. Now, after a complaint filed with the sheriff’s office, prosecutors are reviewing the case. They will seek appointment of a special prosecutor to weigh in as well before deciding whether to pursue charges, County Attorney Mitchell Damsky said Friday.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/50-states/2021/10/04/chinese-laundry-phone-booth-advice-balloon-fiesta-news-around-states/119016838/14283