Tag: News

COVID prompts temporary Aspen Recreation Center closure | News

The Aspen Recreation Center and Aspen Youth Center are closed for a deep clean after an ARC visitor tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 14, the city of Aspen announced Thursday. The closure extends at least through the weekend.

“Over the next several days, the ARC and Aspen Youth Center will undergo an extensive and deep clean following all COVID-19 protocols. The immediate closure will result in the first weekend of Fall Face-Off to be canceled,” it was noted in a statement.

It’s hoped the facility can reopen by Monday for fall break if feasible.

“The county’s disease investigation team has identified over 70 potential contacts and this closure will help minimize further spread until the contact tracing team can finish their investigations to understand the breadth of the potential outbreak at the facility and in our community. The contact tracing team is continuing its investigation with potential contacts and is working closely with the city of Aspen staff to determine the next steps,” according to the statement.

The ARC opened Oct. 5 to the public with a reservations system and limited capacity for community teams, the statement noted. It continued: “The ARC was following Pitkin County Public Health protocols and limiting group sizes in any area of the ARC to 50 people. Every hour the ARC staff actively cleans the entire facility between reservations.”

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WV Land Polluted by Coal Mines Transforms into Recreation Area / Public News Service

A new nature preserve in West Virginia represents an innovative approach to restoring land polluted by former coal mines. (Flickr)

A new nature preserve in West Virginia represents an innovative approach to restoring land polluted by former coal mines. (Flickr)

October 16, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As a result of a lawsuit over water pollution from mining, a tract of land that once housed surface mines is being repurposed as a public recreation area for West Virginians.

The Mammoth Preserve in Kanawha County will offer mountain biking, hiking trails and other amenities. A coalition of environmental groups sued the Alpha Natural Resources mining company more than 10 years ago over selenium discharge that contaminated nearby waters.

Cindy Rank is the chair of the mining committee at the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, one of the groups involved in the court case. She said Alpha agreed to transfer the land to correct the pollution problems.

“I just hope that people see these as positive outcomes of what are normally seen as negative actions, like taking people to court or even suing them,” said Rank. “And sometimes there are good things that come out.”

The 5,000-acre plot of land is part of the old Cannelton mines and is being developed by the West Virginia Land Trust and the Appalachian Headwaters. The Trust will manage the preserve for wildlife habitat, water protection and recreation access.

Rank said the preserve represents a new approach to restoring land polluted by former coal mines. She pointed out that in the past, mines would be abandoned and the land left deserted without a way for new growth to return.

Now the Trust will dig up the area and plant new vegetation.

“This is returning pre-mined land to some of the healthier hardwood forests that have existed in that area before,” said Rank. “And in turn, that improvement in the reclamation also improves the drainage, and that helps the water and the streams in the area.”

Rank said the site will be a boost for the local tourism industry. In the future, she said, West Virginians in the area won’t have to drive for hours to hike and bike and enjoy nature.

Disclosure: West Virginia Highlands Conservancy contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Diane Bernard, Public News Service – WV

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Public input sought for Vernon County Outdoor Recreation Plan | News

Vernon County is in the process of updating its Outdoor Recreation Plan and is looking for public participation in a short survey.

The purpose of the Vernon County Outdoor Recreation Plan is to identify issues, opportunities, needs and organize public policy to address them in a manner that makes the best and most appropriate use of county resources. It will also describe a desired future for community outdoor recreation over the next five years and establish goals to move toward that future.

“In addition to tourism economic impacts for our local communities, outdoor recreation is a significant industry driving Vernon County’s economy and providing quality of life for our residents. Being strategic about updating this plan for improving our current and enhancing our future outdoor recreation is a great step,” says Christina Dollhausen, Vernon County’s Economic Development & Tourism Coordinator.

Vernon County’s Outdoor Recreation Plan is actively being developed with participation by county committees, outdoor recreation entities countywide and most importantly, the community. The county would appreciate people’s participation by filling out the Outdoor Recreation survey by or before Nov. 3. The survey may take 5 minutes to complete.

The survey link can be found on vernoncounty.org under Parks and Forests or click on the following like to take the survey here: https://vernon-county-outdoor-mrrpc.hub.arcgis.com/

Responses will be anonymous.

Please share widely and encourage others to take the survey on or before Nov. 3 to help describe a desired future for Vernon County outdoor recreation.

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Singapore and Hong Kong agree to set up a travel bubble, and other news from around the world.

Officials in Singapore and Hong Kong said Thursday that they had reached a preliminary agreement to establish a travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers, allowing travelers of all kinds to bypass quarantine.

Under the agreement, travelers must test negative for the virus and fly only on designated flights. Officials did not say when the bubble, which was first reported by The South China Morning Post, would begin.

Travelers from Singapore would be the first allowed to enter Hong Kong since the semiautonomous Chinese territory barred all nonresidents in March; residents returning to Hong Kong are required to quarantine for 14 days. Singapore currently requires travelers from Hong Kong to quarantine for seven days after arrival.

“Both our cities have low incidence of Covid-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control Covid-19,” Singapore’s travel minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a statement.

Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, called the agreement “a milestone in our efforts to resume normalcy while fighting against the long-drawn battle of Covid-19.”

Singapore and Hong Kong have both been reporting daily new cases in the single or double digits since late August.

Efforts to establish reciprocal travel bubbles in Asia and other parts of the world have been halting as case numbers fluctuate and new outbreaks emerge. Starting Friday, Australia will waive quarantine requirements for travelers from New Zealand, which recently stamped out the virus for a second time, though New Zealand will still require quarantine for travelers arriving from Australia.

Singapore has also lifted restrictions on general visitors from Brunei, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia except for the state of Victoria, the center of the outbreak there. But all four of those countries are still closed to almost all foreigners, and in the case of Brunei and Australia residents must apply for permission to leave the country as well.

In other global developments:

  • The European Parliament announced on Thursday that it would cancel a meeting scheduled to be held next week in Strasbourg, in northern France, as the outbreak widens. The meeting would have been its first in-person session in Strasbourg since the start of the pandemic. Belgium, where most parliamentary staff and members are based, is also seeing a sharp rise in cases.

  • Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, went into quarantine for a second time in two weeks after being exposed to the virus. She tweeted on Thursday that she had tested negative, but a member of her office had tested positive. She wrote that she was leaving a European Council meeting in Brussels that was being held with strict social-distancing measures.

  • Portugal announced new virus restrictions on Thursday, including a five-person limit on public gatherings, after a rise in new cases. In Spain, which is seeing an even sharper increase, the city of Salamanca, famous for its 12th-century university, became the latest area to be cut off from the rest of the country, under new

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Allentown gets grant to help boost outdoor recreation | Lehigh Valley Regional News

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Cindy Adams Dunn, the Secretary for Pennsylvania’s District of Conservation and Natural Resources, was in Allentown on a day she handed out 31 state grants totaling $7 million. All are aimed at providing more trails throughout the state, and nearly 40 new miles will be added with the funds.

“It is phenomenal. We haven’t constructed a trail in a number of years,” said Allentown Director of Parks and Recreation Karen El-Chaar.

She says that will change as the city received a $500,000 grant to complete 1.8 miles of the Jordan Creek Greenway.

It “provides pedestrians and bicyclists the opportunity to follow the trail and take you into Whitehall,” she described.

The trail, which also runs on the road, will start at the 200 block of North Turner. It will go through Jordan Park, and onto MacArthur Road, getting users closer to Jordan Parkway. This comes as the city is looking to raise $5.5 million for Auburn Cross Trails located at 4th and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The 22 acres would act as a trail link through the city.

“This Jordan Park Greenway is emblematic of the trail system here in Pa. and how it connects communities,” Dunn said.

Dunn says the goal is to have all Pennsylvanians within a 10-minute car ride to a trail.

The D&L Trail also got a $500,000 grant to close a gap in Northampton County, helping to connect its more than 140-mile trail through the state.

It’s all a needed outlet. Dunn says state park use in September had an increase of a million people compared to last year. This follows the trend of people needing the outdoors during the pandemic.

“This has shown us how essential spending time outdoors and walking is for people, especially under stress,” she said.

Allentown hopes to start the trail construction by late summer and be finished in 2022. The ultimate goal is to connect center city with the Trexler Nature Preserve.

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Foreign Lawyers for ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Say They Have Been Denied Access to Him | World News

By Clement Uwiringiyimana

KIGALI (Reuters) – Foreign lawyers of Paul Rusesabagina, depicted as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, say they have been stopped from seeing their client who is under detention in the central African country.

A political dissident who has lived in exile in Belgium and the United States, Rusesabagina was arrested in August after returning to the country and subsequently charged with terrorism and other offences.

Attorneys Vincent Lurquin and Philippe Larochelle said in an online press conference their efforts to talk to their client during a recent visit to Rwanda had been frustrated by authorities.

Larochelle said both had tried unsuccessfully to get required clearance from the head of the Rwanda Bar Association (RBA), Julien Kavaruganda, to be allowed to see their client.

After spending 16 days in the country looking for Kavaruganda, Larochelle said he “was nowhere to be found and I was never able to meet Rusesabagina during my stay in Rwanda.”

Larochelle said he went to the prison and tried to speak to his client and was blocked by authorities there.

“It’s really painful to see that…for one accused to see a lawyer of his choice should not be impeded in any manner whatsoever.”

Both lawyers said they had applied to the RBA to be permitted to see their client but had not heard back from the body.

In a WhatsApp message Kavaruganda said the lawyers did not have a work permit and visa to practise law in Rwanda.

“Usually a foreigner willing to come and work in Rwanda needs a visa and work permit. If a foreigner is willing to come to Rwanda and practice as an advocate he or she has to fulfil the conditions,” Kavaruganda said.

The movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ was inspired by Rusesabagina’s heroism protecting Tutsis who sought safety at a hotel in the capital Kigali where he was manager. An estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred in the genocide.

(Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Toby Chopra)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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The Latest: Harris Negative for Virus After Canceling Travel | Pennsylvania News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential election (all times local):

California Sen. Kamala Harris has tested negative for the coronavirus.

It comes the same day she canceled travel for several days after two people involved with the Democratic presidential campaign tested positive.

The campaign says both Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, tested negative for the virus Thursday.

Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, was scheduled to campaign in North Carolina, which she has replaced with a virtual event.

The campaign announced Thursday morning that Harris’ communications director and a noncampaign staff member of the fight crew for her travel tested positive for the virus. The campaign says Harris did not have close contact with either within the past 48 hours.


President Donald Trump is traveling to North Carolina and Florida on Thursday and will participate in an NBC town hall from Miami at 8 p.m. Eastern. His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, is participating in an ABC town hall from Philadelphia at the same time.

— President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will compete for TV audiences in dueling town halls.

— Poll by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds majorities of Americans are highly critical of Trump’s handling of coronavirus pandemic and his own illness.

— Harris temporarily suspend in-person events after two campaign associates test positive for virus.


President Donald Trump is taking some of his most overt swipes yet at Dr. Anthony Fauci while campaigning in North Carolina.

Trump is defending his administration’s response to the pandemic, as he generally does at his rallies.

He offered a reminder that Fauci at one point said that people should not wear a mask. The doctor has said that an early recommendation about not wearing a mask was because there was a shortage of personal protective equipment for health professionals at the time. He has since called for universal mask wearing.

Trump called Fauci a nice guy, “so I keep him around.”

But he also described Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, as a Democrat. “Everybody knows that. He’s Cuomo’s friend,” Trump says, a reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Fauci has been studiously apolitical over a five-decade career in public health. The doctor has expressed dismay that the president used his comments in a campaign ad and says his comments were taken out of comments.

President Donald Trump has added some new material to his campaign rally speech: his teenage son Barron’s recent coronavirus infection.

Trump has worked the 14-year-old’s medical condition into his rally speech since the first lady disclosed Wednesday that their son had tested positive. She said he didn’t have any symptoms and has since tested negative.

Mrs. Trump has fiercely guarded the ninth-grader’s privacy, but the president is now using his son’s case to bolster his argument for why schools can and should fully reopen.

At a rally Thursday in Greenville,

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Henrico-based hotel operator opens two properties in the Richmond region; other area projects delayed | Business News

Henrico-based KM Hotels has opened two new hotels in the Richmond region in recent months.

The company opened up the Residence Inn by Marriott on Glenside Drive just north of West Broad Street in Henrico County last month.

That hotel site, which is in front of the Hampton Inn & Suites that KM Hotels also owns, had been the home of the Skilligalee seafood restaurant, which closed in 2013.

The 119-room, four-story hotel was supposed to open earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the opening.

KM Hotels also opened a five-story Tru by Hilton hotel in Ashland. The 91-room hotel is at the northwest quadrant of state Route 54 and Interstate 95.

It also opened a Tru hotel in Radford.

Both Tru hotels also were slated to open earlier this year, but got delayed.

KM Hotels is proceeding with other projects in the Richmond region, but those developments have been delayed because of the pandemic, said Mayur Patel, the president and chief operating officer of KM Hotels.

“They have been prolonged and are still going through the development approval process,” Patel said.

One project calls for a nine-story hotel along the Kanawha Canal in downtown Richmond for an AC Hotel by Marriott.

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Americans torn between taking a vacation and avoiding the coronavirus, surveys find – News – Wicked Local

Americans would love to go on vacation. They’re just not sure they should actually go.

That’s the finding of two surveys that both found many travelers are expressing hesitation due to the coronavirus pandemic about taking a trip.

Some 67% of those responding to an AAA Travel survey released Thursday say they are uncertain about whether to take a vacation.

And online travel booking site Travelocity found 57% of Americans say they won’t travel for the year-end holidays this year.

The findings are in line with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which offers a world map that indicates the coronavirus is a threat in just about every country, including the U.S.

The AAA survey points to a trend that has become a theme of fall travel since the pandemic started causing broad shutdowns in March – more trips by car often to outdoor destinations and planned days or a week, not months, ahead of time.

About 80% of vacation trips will be by car, and places “known for outdoor recreation and socially distanced fun” will be particularly popular, AAA said.

As if to prove the point, two new outdoor-oriented destinations show up on AAA’s list of most popular driving vacation destinations. Keystone, South Dakota, gateway to Mount Rushmore, now takes sixth place. Colorado, the Rocky Mountain State, adds Colorado Springs in 10th place.

The Top 10 are:


Las Vegas

Los Angeles

San Diego



Portland, Oregon


Colorado Springs

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

“Trips that allow people to take advantage of the great outdoors are particularly appealing this fall,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement.

Families are open to vacations at the end of the year, but are wary of the coronavirus. Most of those who take a trip will go by car. Here’s how it was done 70 years ago when families loaded up the station wagon.

She cited state and national parks, beaches and gardens as the kind of COVID-19-safe attractions that are popular.

The Travelocity survey found 25% of respondents surveyed in mid-September had planned to take a vacation by the end of the year.

Despite the general trend toward booking trips on short notice, Travelocity found about 60% of both those planning Thanksgiving or December holiday trips had planned to book by the end of September. Those planning travel said they have already made travel arrangements for Thanksgiving or December trips.

“It’s going to be a nontraditional holiday season this year, so families are gearing up to make the most of it by planning a holiday away from home and using their vacation days to travel,” says Katie Junod, Travelocity’s general manager, in a statement.

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Norwood Recreation to host Trunk or Treat – News – Wicked Local

Editor’s Note: The following comes from the Norwood Recreation Department.

The Recreation Department has partnered with the Skating Club of Boston, 750 University Ave., and they are hosting the Trunk or Treat Drive Through on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 11:30 a.m. The club has a huge parking lot perfect for a drive-thru.

This year the cost will be $5 per car that drives through, and all the money will go to the Norwood Food Pantry. All cars must be preregistered.

This event is for Norwood residents only.

Participants will drive through and see all the different themed trunks and be able to wave; the department encourages participants to wear costumes and decorate their cars and get in the Halloween spirit.

Each trunk this year will not be passing out candy, but participants will receive a goody bag at the end of all the trunks from the Recreation Department due to COVID. The department already has more than 25 cars registered to decorate trunks, and police, fire, light, Norwood Community Media and DPW will be bringing a truck.

Registration will be limited and will open on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 9 a.m. There will be two time slots; only cars registered for the time slot will be able to drive through at that time.


Candy donations wanted

This year the department is making more than 500 goodie bags for Trunk or Treat participants. In order to donate all the proceeds to the Norwood Food Pantry, we need your help with candy donations.

Individually wrapped candy can be sent via Amazon to 165 Nahatan St., or candy dropped off at the Civic Center. We are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. All candy donations need to be brought in by Friday, Oct. 16.





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