News from across the USA
ALABAMA Huntsville: NASA says construction is finished in Huntsville on a 221-foot-tall, twin-tower stand that will be used to test hardware for the space agency’s new rocket that eventually will take astronauts into deep space.
ALASKA Anchorage: The Alaska village of Newtok has asked President Obama for a disaster declaration because of ongoing erosion and thawing permafrost brought on by warmer temperatures.
ARIZONA Nogales: A slowmoving runaway train crashed into a border fence in Arizona after leaving Mexico unmanned. Union Pacific Railroad says it’s unclear how the train took off without a conductor.
ARKANSAS Little Rock: A majority of Arkansas’ work-related deaths in 2015 were linked to transportation, The Southwest Times Record reports.
CALIFORNIA Buena Park: California amusement park Knott’s Berry Farm plans to sell animatronics and other memorabilia at an auction. The Orange County
Register reports that the auction will have more than a dozen coin-operated player pianos.
COLORADO Colorado Springs: The nation’s largest firefighting aircraft has been approved to fight wildfires on federal land.
The Gazette reports that the converted freighter can carry up to 19,600 gallons of retardant or water for 4,000 miles.
CONNECTICUT Simsbury: Members of an animal rights group rescued a deer that was chased by coyotes onto the frozen Farmington River and became trapped in ice. The rescuers tossed dirt onto the ice to help the deer get its footing.
DELAWARE Dover: A former Secret Service officer has agreed to plead guilty to trying to solicit sex from an undercover Delaware State Police agent he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: For the first time in six decades, a new voice will lead this year’s presidential inaugural parade. Charlie Brotman, 89, has been the announcer for every inaugural parade since 1957. But Presidentelect Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee picked a new lead announcer.
FLORIDA Homestead: State agriculture officials say New World screwworm has been found for the first time in decades on Florida’s mainland in a stray dog. A search is being conducted for screwworm flies and other possibly infected animals.
GEORGIA St. Mary’s: This Georgia coastal city is getting ready for camera crews from the TV show America’s Got Talent.
The News of Brunswick reports that producers plan to use a city park and the St. Marys River as backdrops.
HAWAII Honolulu: A new film will highlight two World War II units that were made up mostly of Japanese-Americans. The
Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that work on the film, “Go for Broke,” started Dec. 11.
IDAHO Boise: Astronaut and teacher Barbara Morgan is the first recipient of Idaho’s highest civilian honor. Morgan flew on the Endeavor shuttle in 2007.
ILLINOIS Quincy: Financially challenged Quincy University has received $1 million from an anonymous donor. The Quincy Herald
Whig reports that the school is in a five-year recovery plan following the revelation in October of a $5 million budget deficit.
INDIANA Bloomington: The governing body of Delta Tau Delta has suspended the charter of the fraternity’s chapter at Indiana University Bloomington following problems with hazing.
IOWA Ames: Iowa State University insect experts say an extensive surveillance project last year found that the two mosquito species most linked to Zika virus aren’t established in the state.
KANSAS Topeka: Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss warns that the state Supreme Court could be forced to close extra days if lawmakers cut the judicial system’s budget. Nuss says the court’s main option for reducing spending is to force court employees to take unpaid days off.
KENTUCKY Beaver Dam: More than a dozen people lost their jobs after a welcome center and rest area along the Wendell FordWestern Kentucky Parkway closed last weekend.
LOUISIANA Baton Rouge: A federal lawsuit accuses Louisiana prison officials of retaliating against an inmate for corresponding with a reporter whose stories were critical of the state corrections department. The suit says William Kissinger was moved from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola into solitary confinement at another prison.
MAINE Gardiner: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has agreed to pay $225,000 to settle an investigation by Maine’s insurance superintendent over its failure to adequately track and respond to customer complaints.
MARYLAND Crisfield: Maryland’s ice cutter came to the rescue of Smith Island. The Chesapeake Bay island is accessible only by boat or air, and thickening ice was blocking trips by ferry and mail boats.
MASSACHUSETTS Amherst: Students and alumni at Amherst College have narrowed the choice of a new team mascot to 30 semifinalists — and it could soon come down to “Go Hamsters Go!” Supporters note that Hamster is an anagram for Amherst.
MICHIGAN Saginaw: The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to intervene in the case of a man who wants to use a video recorder at Saginaw County courts. Robert McKay wants the justices to declare a First Amendment right to record what happens in courts.
MINNESOTA Hartland: A barn fire killed thousands of pigs on a Minnesota farm. The Albert Lea
Tribune reports that as many as 8,000 pigs died after the building caught fire and eventually collapsed. No people were hurt.
MISSISSIPPI Biloxi: Biloxi planners have given initial approval to a development that could eventually have 14,000 residents. The
Sun Herald reports that the 626acre Belle la Vie development is planned north of Interstate 10 in the rural Woolmarket area, which Biloxi has annexed.
MISSOURI St. Louis: For the first time in nearly a decade, the St. Louis city school district is fully accredited by the state of Missouri. One state education commission member likened the improvement to “turning around the Titanic.”
MONTANA Butte: A broken water pipe caused extensive damage to a Montana Tech building.
The Montana Standard reports that the flooding began on the third floor of the Frank and Ann Gilmore University Relations Center.
NEBRASKA Lincoln: The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is opening a food pantry on campus. KETV reports that the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry Plus results from a survey that showed three of every 10 students report occasionally worrying about having enough food.
NEVADA Reno: Authorities are investigating a weekend break-in at the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office. It’s not yet clear if anything was taken from the morgue, The Reno Gazette
NEW HAMPSHIRE Concord: A New Hampshire lawmaker is proposing a bill that could keep Russian vodka off the shelves of state liquor stores. Senate Majority Leader Jeff Woodburn also wants the state retirement system to reconsider whether it should have investments in Russian companies.
NEW JERSEY Camden: A baby blue penguin is the latest arrival at Adventure Aquarium in Camden. The aquarium says the chick was born in a nesting box on Dec. 3 and since then has grown to more than two pounds.
NEW MEXICO Roswell: New Mexico is providing a $1 million grant to help Roswell build a new roof for its largest city-owned hangar. The upgrade is expected to create 70 new jobs, The Ros
well Daily Record reports.
NEW YORK New York: Dozens of women who visit inmates at New York City jails say they’ve been subjected to demeaning and illegal strip searches. WNYC Radio and The Intercept report that the city has received at least 83 complaints about such searches since 2010.
NORTH CAROLINA Durham: A charter school in Durham reports that 160 of its 399 graduates received diplomas between 2008 and 2016 with no evidence that they met all requirements. The State Board of Education has recommended that the Durham County District Attorney’s Office determine whether it should investigate Kestrel Heights.
NORTH DAKOTA Bismarck: The chairman of North Dakota’s oil-rich Fort Berthold Reservation has renewed threats to pull out of a revenue sharing agreement with the state. Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox says legislation that would cut tax increases for producers if oil prices rebound above $90 a barrel violates the agreement.
OHIO Cincinnati: The Cincinnati Zoo says one of its Nile hippos is pregnant and expected to deliver sometime in March. Hippi momto-be Bibi, 17, and her male companion, 35-year-old Henry, have been breeding since the opening of the Hippo Cove exhibit in July 2016.
OKLAHOMA Slapout: A wildfire that broke out this week in the Oklahoma Panhandle and spread rapidly because of high wind is contained, Beaver County Emergency Management says.
OREGON Portland: A Portland woman died of hypothermia three months after being evicted from the low-income apartment where she had lived for 10 years.
The Oregonian/ OregonLive reports that Karen Lee Batts, 52, died in a parking garage during a stretch of below-freezing temperatures earlier this month.
PENNSYLVANIA Scranton: The city’s Houdini Museum that honors illusionist Harry Houdini is raising money for a limitedrelease Monopoly-like board game for collectors. In case you’re wondering, Houdini won’t get out of jail free — he’ll get out of prison to avoid copyright issues.
RHODE ISLAND Providence: The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld a decision giving the Preservation Society of Newport County zoning approval to build a visitors center at The Breakers. But many members of the Vanderbilt family, which built the historic oceanside mansion, oppose the plans.
SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia: South Carolina transportation officials say three new bridges have opened in Richland County to replace three that were damaged by floods in October 2015.
SOUTH DAKOTA Avon: A company that proposed a 201-megawatt wind farm near Avon last year has a new plan for 13 smaller South Dakota projects. The Yank
ton Daily Press & Dakotan reports that the projects in Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties range from 6.8 megawatts to 20 megawatts.
TENNESSEE Alcoa: No students were injured when a Tennessee school bus burst into flames shortly after its driver noticed smoke and unloaded 29 children on board. Alcoa City Schools Director Brian Bell says the driver heard a pop, smelled and saw smoke, and pulled over.
TEXAS Burleson: An 85-year-old Texas man who walks with the aid of a cane is credited for helping save the lives of two women whose speeding car flipped onto his front yard and burst into flames. Lindell Marbut helped to pull the 22-year-old driver and her passenger to safety, KDFWTV reports.
UTAH St. George: A former Dixie State University theater professor who was found not guilty of assaulting a student is suing university faculty and staff members for more than $22 million over his termination. The
Spectrum of St. George reports that Varlo Davenport also is seeking reinstatement.
VERMONT Rutland: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting Jan. 24 to start its review process into the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, The Rut
land Herald reports.
VIRGINIA Tysons Corner: Motorists who tried to take an express lane on Interstate 495 ahead of a snow storm found themselves faced with a $30 toll. The inflated toll was partly due to traffic buildup that was blamed on salt trucks.
WASHINGTON Seattle: Online real estate company Zillow has pledged $5 million toward the University of Washington’s new computer science building. The $110 million project also has donations from Microsoft and Amazon.
WEST VIRGINIA Charleston: The Charles
ton Gazette-Mail reports that West Virginia is seeking U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permission to stock rainbow trout in four state streams. Officials are concerned that the trout could push two endangered species of crawfish closer to extinction.
WISCONSIN Milwaukee: Hundreds of people with hopes of buying a city-owned foreclosed property in Milwaukee for $1 were disappointed to learn the housing initiative was designed for developers.
WYOMING Gillette: A recent study determined that a piece of petrified wood housed at this Wyoming town’s visitor center is about 60 million years old, The
Gillette News Record reports.