News from around the nation

2013-03-24T00:00:00Z 2013-03-25T11:14:08Z News from around the nationThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arkansas

'Poultry Capital' title proposed for town

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas lawmakers have hatched a plan to market the home of Tyson Foods Inc. by declaring it the "Poultry Capital of the World."

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would give Springdale the new title. The name would be written into a section of state law that names Arkansas' official flower, motto and bird, among other matters.

The town of Cotter is named "Trout Capital of the U.S.A." in that section.

Republican Sen. Jon Woods of Springdale said a City Council member had approached him about the idea as a way to market the northwest Arkansas city.

Woods said the proposal does not require any state funding

The bill now heads to the state House for consideration.

Illinois

Commissioner vows appeal of guilty verdict

CHICAGO - An influential Chicago Democrat reacted defiantly to his conviction by a jury on federal tax charges.

Outside the courtroom on Thursday afternoon, 78-year-old Cook County Commissioner William Beavers told reporters that he did not do anything illegal, and he plans to appeal the verdict, calling it only the "first round" of his legal battle.

The jury deliberated for just a couple hours before convicting Beavers on all four tax counts - each of which carries a maximum three-year prison term.

During her closing argument, prosecutor Carrie Hamilton told jurors that Beavers dipped into his campaign coffers for gambling money and then failed to declare it as income. But defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. alleged government attorneys had twisted the evidence.

Iowa

Traffic camera rules proposed for state

DES MOINES - The Iowa Department of Transportation is preparing rules for where traffic cameras may be installed along interstates and highways in the state.

The department decided to move ahead after a measure that would have required cities and counties to get department permits before installing new traffic cameras died in this legislative session.

Department Director Paul Trombino says the rules would help as more cities consider using the cameras. The guidelines would require that cities provide data showing that cameras are the best tool to improve safety on the highways.

The department will hold community meetings to get reactions from Iowa drivers. It also will consider legislation as part of the process.

Louisiana

2 will be honored for aid during storm

NEW ORLEANS - A father and son from Louisiana are being honored next week in Washington for helping more than 100 friends and neighbors to safety when a tidal surge from Hurricane Isaac overwhelmed part of the coast.

Jesse Shaffer III and Jesse Shaffer IV decided to ride out the storm at their Braithwaite home even though the Plaquemines Parish town was under a mandatory evacuation. The August storm overwhelmed the area, filling homes and stranding families and pets in attics and on rooftops.

The Shaffers used their boat to rescue people and animals. They will be awarded Monday with the Citizen Service Before Self Honor, given annually to three people by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Foundation.

Michigan

Man fights to keep large political signs

GAINES TOWNSHIP - A West Michigan man who expresses his political opinions on large trailers awaits a judge's ruling on whether the supersized signs violate a local ordinance.

Vern Verduin appeared in a Kent County district court Friday to defend his messages on two trailers parked in his Gaines Township field. They read "Obama's Mission Accomplished: 8% unemployment. 16 trillion debt." and "Marxism/Socialism (equals) Poverty & Hunger."

Township attorney Crystal Morgan says the ordinance limits political signs to 20 square feet. Verduin says that violates his constitutional rights and objects to language that allows larger signs for commercial purposes.

Judge Steven Servaas asked if a sign saying "I love America" would violate the ordinance. Morgan said yes - if it exceeds 20 feet.

He says he'll issue a decision in about 10 days.

Minnesota

Fishing group may sue over tribes' netting

AITKIN - A new group hopes to mount a legal challenge against letting tribes use gill-netting during walleye-spawning season on Mille Lacs Lake.

A Brainerd Dispatch report says the group, called Save Mille Lacs Sport Fishing, wants to raise $50,000 to mount a legal challenge against the state Department of Natural Resources.

A recent netting survey indicated the walleye population in Mille Lacs Lake was at a 40-year low. So DNR officials and eight Indian tribes with treaty rights on the lake agreed to halve the walleye harvest to 250,000 pounds.

But Save Mille Lacs Sport Fishing says the DNR should halt all walleye harvesting during the spawning season, whether with gill-nets, spears or hooks. It says a ban would restore walleye numbers and benefit everyone.

Missouri

Judge again orders stop to college's drug tests

COLUMBIA - A federal judge on Friday again blocked efforts by a central Missouri technical college to drug-test its students, a policy challenged as unconstitutional by the American Civil Liberties Union.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey in Jefferson City granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily prevents Linn State Technical College from screening all first-year students and some returning students for cocaine, methamphetamines, oxycodone and eight other drugs.

The two-year school also cannot report the test results from September 2011, when it began the program and collected urine samples from 500 students before the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri filed suit on behalf of six students.

The lawsuit claims the program violates students' Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures.

Wisconsin

Investment board giving $8M in bonuses

MADISON - Wisconsin's pension fund managers were given more than $8 million in bonuses as a reward for strong investment returns, nearly double what they received last year, according to records released to The Associated Press on Friday.

The bonuses come as most retirees are about to see their pension payments decrease in May for the fifth year in a row due to effects of the 2008 recession.

The bonuses were approved by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board on Wednesday and finalized Friday, said the board's spokeswoman, Vicki Hearing.

Twenty-nine people will receive six-figure bonuses. All but six employees of the board, 139 out of 145 workers, will receive some bonus. Seventy-four employees will get bonuses of at least $25,000.

Nearly everyone receiving a six-figure bonus is a money manager. Roughly half of the agency's employees, 66 out of 145, are money managers.

Of the six who didn't get bonuses, four were ineligible and two didn't meet performance standards, Hearing said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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