50 ★ States
NORTH CAROLINA Chapel Hill:
For nearly 40 years, state Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma was a fixture of the Alabama Statehouse. When lawmakers convene next month, Senate District 23 will be represented by his daughter, Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier.
In celebrating its upcoming 20th anniversary, the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve held a beer label contest to drum up awareness.
Anyone still trying to rent a home near a ballpark for spring training could strike out. Options on sites like Airbnb are increasingly limited, and prices have soared.
ARKANSAS Little Rock:
A lawmaker is proposing that a star on the state’s flag no longer represent the Confederacy, saying it should instead commemorate the contribution of Native Americans to the state.
CALIFORNIA San Francisco:
Chaos broke out at a performance of the musical “Hamilton” at the Orpheum theater Friday after audience members mistook a medical emergency for a shooting. A woman had a heart attack, and someone broke open an emergency defibrillator, activating an alarm at the same time that gunfire went off on stage as part of the show’s duel scene, a fire official says.
COLORADO Fort Collins:
A federal appeals court panel upheld a lower court injunction against a city ban on women going topless in public.
Gov. Ned Lamont, who said during his campaign that he would support highway tolls only for tractor-trailers, announced Saturday that he’s considering a wider tolling option.
About 90 people raced up Market Street in their underwear Saturday as part of the city’s first Cupid’s Undie Run, one of the events staged nationwide to raise money for curingn eur ofib roma to sis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves. All the money raised goes to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington:
Visitors to the National Mall spotted something slightly unusual Friday morning – a vast display of red robes and white bonnets formed in front of the Washington Monument, WUSA-TV reports. They weren’t protesters who have worn similar costumes but rather the actual cast members of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
A firefighter fired for a positive drug test got his job back after arguing the cocaine in his system was from a tea made with coca leaves. The Orlando Sentinel reports that public records show firefighter Kevin Reynolds told investigators he brought a box of coca tea home after hiking Machu Picchu in Peru. The tea is used in South America to fight off altitude sickness.
Officials are working to grow both jobs and the city’s lush urban forest by turning vacant lots into tree nurseries. The Savannah Morning News reports the city has used funding from a green jobs grant to transform three empty city-owned lots. Trainees tending to the saplings are studying to become certified landscape professionals.
Two environmental groups are suing Maui officials over plans to replace about 4,800 streetlights with LED fixtures, claiming the new lights would threaten seabirds and sea turtles.
Officials say a disease that afflicts elk and leaves the animal’s hooves broken and deformed has been identified in the state for the first time. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says it has confirmed a case of treponema associated hoof disease in an animal killed by a hunter near White Bird last year.
Google officials say the company has selected the city as its new finance division hub, with plans to have the capacity to double its workforce in the Windy City by the end of the year.
Nine nonprofits in the state and two Hoosier artists are sharing in grants totaling $215,000 awarded by a federal arts agency. The grants announced Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts include $35,000 for the Bloomington-based Lotus Education & Arts Foundation to support a music and arts festival. Another $30,000 will go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for a series of exhibitions of Japanese paintings, prints and other works, including Samurai armor.
IOWA Des Moines:
Residents are again eligible to get free tree seedlings this year through the city’s Forestry Division. The annual Tiny Trees program has distributed 12,000 free trees since it launched in 2016.
Gov. Laura Kelly says the state was “hoodwinked” under her predecessor into hiring a private company to build a new prison based on a promise that the new lockup would require less staff.
KENTUCKY Olive Hill:
Kentucky State Parks will hold a public hearing this month to get feedback on a proposal for campground improvements at Carter Caves State Resort Park. A statement from the agency says the hearing will be held Feb. 27 at the park’s Lewis Caveland Lodge.
LOUISIANA New Orleans:
Sugar cane is on the rise in the state, with a good crop and decent prices encouraging more farmers to plant the tall tropical grass.
The new Democratic governor has repealed her Republican predecessor’s executive order that aimed to prohibit state agencies from permitting new wind energy projects in certain areas.
A complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board accuses Johns Hopkins Hospital officials of retaliating against two nurses involved in an effort to unionize.
State lawmakers are considering whether to cut schools some slack after frigid temperatures and other weather caused a high number of snow days. State law forgives schools from making up six days that are canceled, and schools can get a waiver for three additional days. Some legislators from both parties say the wintry weather has been so extreme that the law should be loosened.
MINNESOTA St. Paul:
Two state lawmakers are proposing a bill that would reimburse school districts for feeding students healthy, local foods through farm-to-school initiatives.
Artists are working on a statue of a civil rights leader who was killed in 1966 when Ku Klux Klansmen firebombed his family’s home. Vernon Dahmer of Hattiesburg was targeted because he encouraged fellow African-Americans to register to vote.
MISSOURI Kansas City:
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of a Kansas City meeting that sparked the league with a yearlong celebration. The Kansas City Star reports that the museum in the 18th and Vine District has announced the festivities will begin Feb. 13, 2020, the anniversary of a meeting of interested owners led by Andrew “Rube” Foster at the Paseo YMCA.
The state Senate gave tentative approval Saturday to two bills that sponsors said will help with youth safety by creating a statewide library featuring student pictures that law enforcement can access 24/7 and another that officials said would focus on school safety.
The third annual Bigfoot Conference drew an estimated 700 people to the city over the weekend.
NEVADA Carson City:
The governor signed into law Friday a bill expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfers, taking advantage of a Democrat-controlled Legislature to approve the first gunrelated bill to cross Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk.
NEW HAMPSHIRE Concord:
The state has become the first to challenge a U.S. Department of Justice legal opinion that could threaten online gambling and state-run lotteries. In a reversal from 2011, the department issued an opinion in November interpreting the federal Wire Act as applying to any form of gambling that crosses state lines, not just sports betting.
NEW JERSEY Asbury Park:
The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival returns to the City by the Sea for its fifth year April 25-28, headlined by an evening with writing and directing sibling tandem Bobby and Peter Farrelly.
NEW MEXICO Santa Fe:
More trees on city-owned land might have to be pruned or removed, which officials in the state capital say is a result of climate change.
NEW YORK Cobleskill:
Ahoy, beer lovers: A bottle from a 133-year-old shipwreck may yield yeast for a new brew upstate. Biotechnology students at the State University of New York at Cobleskill uncorked a bottle from the shipwrecked SS Oregon on Thursday. Serious Brewing Company of Howes Cave plans to develop a new brew if the students successfully extract yeast.
A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill hearings panel has dismissed an honor court case against a graduate student who colored a Confederate statue on campus with ink and blood. The News and Observer reports a letter sent to student Maya Little said the panel voted to dismiss the case Thursday.
NORTH DAKOTA Bismarck:
Regulators say the state’s oil production set a record in December.
The maker of Cleveland’s ballpark mustard is removing the Chief Wahoo logo from its branding and packaging to maintain ties with the Cleveland Indians baseball team.
OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City:
The traditional head scarves worn by Muslim women took center stage at several events observing “World Hijab Day” recently in the metro area. Women gathered at the Aloft Hotel for a “World Hijab Day” dinner and program hosted by the Council on American Islamic Relations – Oklahoma chapter. The special day also was celebrated at the University of Central Oklahoma, where members of the Muslim Student Association set up a “World Hijab Day” booth.
This city often in the spotlight for its liberal leanings has been roiled by the revelation that a police lieutenant in charge of containing protests texted repeatedly with the leader of a far-right group involved in those demonstrations. The mayor has asked the police chief to investigate “disturbing” texts between Lt. Jeff Niiya, head of the Police Bureau’s rapid response team, and the leader of Patriot Prayer.
With prime Peeps season about to get underway, the city where they’re “born” has honored the man who brought marshmallow chicks to the masses. The (Allentown) Morning Call reports Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez proclaimed Friday as “Bob Born Day.”
RHODE ISLAND Providence:
A state senator has introduced a bill that would add a 1 percent tax on the sale of hookah and vaping products.
SOUTH CAROLINA Cleveland:
The state has added land along the South Saluda River that it plans to let people use for fishing, hunting and hiking. The Department of Natural Resources said the 2.7 square-mile parcel of land in northern Greenville County was bought for $4 million thanks to $3 million from the state Conservation Bank.
SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls:
The Stampede’s new name change will leave opponents trembling in their skates. The ice hockey team will officially change its name to the Sioux Falls Fighting Wiener Dogs, for one day. The change aims to celebrate the 12th annual Sioux National Pet Clinic Wiener Dog Races that will be held at the Feb. 23 game.
The Tennessee State Museum’s newest exhibit features two centuries’ worth of quilts from across the state.
Mario Figueroa Jr., a local graffiti artist better known as Gonzo247, got to work last week on the first permanent mural on the University of St. Thomas campus. The Houston Chronicle reports the mural will depict St. Thomas Aquinas, the school’s namesake, amid a vibrant background featuring imagery from the campus, with the downtown skyline as a base below.
A towering steel spiral structure that sits in front of the new state courthouse in the city is the work of an artist who says he wanted a light and airy piece of art to contrast the courthouse. The Daily Herald reports that sculptor Lyle London calls the 35-foot-tall sculpture the “circling spire.” At night, the sculpture it is lit up in red, green and yellow by spotlights.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles is updating driver’s licenses and nondriver identification cards with advanced security features.
Lawmakers have approved legislation to require Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, to excavate and clean up unlined coal ash pits.
The state Senate on Friday approved a measure that would repeal the death penalty, just months after the state’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down capital punishment as arbitrary and racially biased.
WEST VIRGINIA Wheeling:
The Ohio County Public Library is showcasing many treasures from its large archival collections as part of Wheeling 250, a yearlong celebration of the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding.
A report says the state last year saw a slight decrease in the number of students who received breakfast at school through a federally subsidized nutrition program. Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Washington-based nonprofit Food Research and Action Center found Wisconsin’s participation in the School Breakfast Program is trailing the rest of the country.
State lawmakers have advanced a proposed property tax break on equipment used in energy production. The Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee voted 4-1 Friday to move the bill to the full Senate for debate.