News from around our 50 states

A sign asking for help can be seen in a window at Holman Correctional Facility during an Oct. 22, 2019, tour of the prison in Atmore, Ala.



A sign asking for help can be seen in a window at Holman Correctional Facility during an Oct. 22, 2019, tour of the prison in Atmore, Ala.

Atmore: The state is largely shutting down a state prison that houses more than 600 inmates because of sewer and other infrastructure problems in the 51-year-old facility, the state commissioner announced Wednesday. The move is the latest upheaval in the prison system that has struggled with overcrowding, low staffing, violence and aging facilities. Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said 617 inmates at Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore will be sent to other state prisons. Dunn said the decision was made because maintenance crews were struggling daily to maintain sewer and electrical systems housed in a tunnel running beneath the main prison building. Some inmates, including death row inmates, will remain at Holman in units that run on separate systems, he said.


A Cook Inlet beluga whale calf, left, and an adult breach near Anchorage, Alaska, in 2009.

Anchorage: The population of endangered beluga whales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet continues to decline, federal marine mammal authorities announced Tuesday. A biennial survey conducted by the fisheries arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated the population of the white whales at 250 to 317, with a median estimate of 279. “The population is estimated to be smaller and declining more quickly than previously thought,” NOAA Fisheries said in the announcement. The survey is based on data collected by aerial surveys in summer 2018. The survey also documented that a contraction has persisted of the summer range of belugas, the geographical area where they live. Since 2008, on average 81% of the total population occupied the Susitna Delta near the north end of the inlet in early June during the aerial survey period. Before that, about 50% did.


Shoshone Point, a peaceful spot along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, is reached by an easy walk through the woods. It's popular for weddings and other events.

Grand Canyon National Park: If you want to tie the knot at the Grand Canyon, you’ll want to get your request in sooner rather than later. A lack of staffing means applications for special use permits will take longer to process, park officials said this week. Weddings, family reunions, memorial services, organized group hikes or runs within the canyon, and scattering ashes within the park all require special use permits. The most popular request is to say “I do” at Shoshone Point at the South Rim, the only viewpoint available for outdoor receptions, or at a multipurpose building known as Shrine of the Ages, said Sharon Ringsven, the park’s deputy chief of commercial services. Other wedding locations are available within the park. Basic permits now take up to 30 days to process but will take up to 45 days starting Feb. 14. More complex requests could take up to 90 days.


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