Sacramento has a plan to thwart copper thieves
SACRAMENTO - The city of Sacramento wants to pull the plug on copper wire theft.
Sacramento officials said Thursday that city employees will begin installing new wires with unique identifiers that indicate they belong to the city. They'll be put in over the next few years.
The Sacramento Bee reported that over the last three years hundreds of wire theft incidents have led to 20,000 street-light repairs that cost the city an estimated $1.7 million. At times, police were investigating three to five instances of wire theft each week.
Officials say copper theft has been a problem for the past decade, but it's gotten worse over the last few years as demand for copper increased overseas.
Group vows to carry guns, unloaded, at July 4 parade
WESTCLIFFE - Residents in the southern Colorado town of Westcliffe are divided over whether a group should carry unloaded weapons in the local Independence Day parade as a protest against new state gun laws.
The Southern Colorado Patriots Club announced its members would carry guns at the parade, prompting the Custer County Chamber of Commerce to cancel the event. The town of Westcliffe saved the parade by sponsoring it instead, but residents are split over the issue, The Denver Post reported.
The tea-party group's recruiting flier encouraged members to "make a statement that we still believe in our Constitution" by carrying unloaded rifles at the parade, "especially the evil black ones," slung over the shoulder.
Patriots Club members have marched in past parades with weapons, although the guns were sometimes concealed, said club member and Westcliffe town trustee Joe Cascarelli.
This year's parade follows passage of measures to limit gun magazines to 15 rounds and to require background checks for all transfers and sales of firearms. The measures become law on Monday.
Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe said he and several other county sheriffs will lead the Patriots group. Jobe and other sheriffs have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the gun laws.
Patriots Club marshals will ensure any guns carried in the parade are unloaded and that safeties are on, Jobe said.
6,000 facing furloughs at military installations
HONOLULU - The 6,000 civil service employees at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai face furloughs of 11 days because of federal budget cuts, according to the commander of Navy Region Hawaii.
Rear Adm. Frank Ponds told Hawaii News Now that the employees will be off work about one day per week between July and September to meet budget goals dictated by automatic federal budget cuts that went into effect when Congress did not approve alternatives.
The furloughs originally were projected to cover 22 days per employee.
The federal budget cuts will cause short-term turbulence but will not alter Navy commitment to Pacific security, he said.
Navy Region Hawaii has 11 ships and 18 submarines. Money will be saved by reducing training days at sea.
Cuts were made where manpower losses could be absorbed, he said. Emergency personnel and 4,300 civil service employees at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard were not affected.
'What happens here' motto is put to new 'purpose'
LAS VEGAS - Tourism officials are riffing on the controversy over national surveillance programs by telling data companies "what happens here, stays here."
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced their tongue-in-cheek campaign Wednesday, saying it mailed open letters to companies including Verizon, Google, AOL and Facebook. An ad with the message also ran in USA Today.
The memo urges the companies to stay strong in resisting government data requests, saying Americans' data should be kept as private as their antics in Sin City.
It asks companies to deny any requests for Las Vegas-related information by offering the city's "what happens here" tagline.
Santa Fe is turning to backup water supplies
SANTA FE - Municipal reservoirs in Santa Fe are about one-third full, and officials say they may run dry in three months.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the city this weekend will start tapping stored water to meet summer demand amid the state's worst drought in decades.
Water resources and conservation manager Rick Carpenter says Santa Fe will begin drawing from the McClure and Nichols reservoirs today or Monday to help maintain water pressure during peak demand times.
Carpenter says the city usually tries to save about 25 to 30 percent of the reservoirs' capacity for the following year. But if conditions remain dry, he says Santa Fe city may head into the summer of 2014 with no water reserves in the canyon.
Disaster aid approved for 3 storm-hit counties
OKLAHOMA CITY - The White House has approved disaster aid for three additional Oklahoma counties affected by last month's storms.
Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday that federal aid has been approved for residents and business owners in LeFlore, Okfuskee and Okmulgee counties who were affected by tornadoes, high winds and flooding in May.
Residents dealing with uninsured property damage in those three counties now will be eligible for assistance for things like housing repairs, temporary housing and low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property.
Volunteers rebuilding home lost to tornado
GRANBURY - Volunteers in North Texas are helping a single mother of four rebuild her home after it was destroyed by a tornado last month.
Olga Hernandez, 35, lost her Granbury home three days before she was scheduled to move in when a May 15 tornado swept through the area.
It was one of a series of tornadoes that killed six.
Volunteers started the rebuilding Wednesday with sponsorship by the General Motors Foundation in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International.
The new home will have a reinforced room to protect against another disaster, Habitat spokeswoman Lydia Traina said.
The Associated Press