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Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley railroad logs its highest ridership

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:20:07 UT

PENINSULA, Ohio (AP) — The nonprofit scenic railroad in Ohio's Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) Valley National Park says it logged about 214,000 passengers last year, reaching the highest ridership in its 44-year history. The railroad says about 24,000 passengers hopped on the train through another ticket program offered to bicyclists, runners and hikers who need one-way rides.



Security center in New Jersey for Liberty State Park closed

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:35:31 UT

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The security screening center in New Jersey that checks visitors for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is closed because of structural concerns. Visitors in New Jersey trying to visit the statue or island are being ferried to Lower Manhattan, where they can be screened at a security facility in New York City's Battery Park.



A beauty pageant of the sea is coming to Quebec City, river

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 15:09:17 UT

What's not in dispute is that the venerable three-masted frigate is a handsome piece of work and just one of dozens of majestic ships that will be sailing North Atlantic waters this summer, visiting ports along the St. Lawrence River for weeks and gathering en masse in Quebec City July 18-23. Stone-walled Old Quebec, with its cobbled streets, commanding cliffs and fortifications from the British-French struggle over New France, is the only place the entire fleet of more than 40 ships will rendezvous. During the tall ship festivities, the waterfront will be alive with music, street performers and visitors clambering aboard the ships for free tours. Among superstars of Rendez-vous 2017: the U.S. Coast Guard's Eagle, a cutter built by Nazi Germany and seized by the U.S. as a war prize. [...] are El Galeon, replica of the Spanish galleons that for three centuries linked Asia, the Americas and Spain; the reconstructed War of 1812 warship Niagara; the 1928-built Picton Castle barque; and the Peruvian Navy's four-masted BAP Union. Both the Eagle and Amerigo Vespucci, built in 1931, were among the 16 or so tall ships that sailed into New York harbor with a vast array of spectator vessels on July 4, 1976.



Permanent home for Chicago Children's Theatre opens

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:35:12 UT

CHICAGO (AP) — Where the desks of Chicago police detectives once stood in a West Side police district is now classrooms for theater-art courses. And the old firing range in the basement is now a storage space for costumes. It's the former 12th District Police Station, which has been transformed into the new, $8.5 million home of the Chicago Children's Theatre. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned Tuesday. Phase One of the project resulted in the new 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre. Phase Two will finish in 2021 and include a second, 299-seat theater. Artistic director Jacqueline Russell says the Children's Theatre's first-ever permanent home "is a reason for all of Chicago to celebrate.



National park visits hits record high for 3rd straight year

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 06:14:06 UT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Visits to U.S. national parks set a record in 2016 for the third consecutive year as landmarks such Zion, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain experienced historic levels of popularity that brought collateral headaches stemming from overcrowded roads and trails and increasing visitor misbehavior. At many parks, visitors waited an hour or more in cars to get through entrance gates and then spent the day trying to outmaneuver fellow visitors for parking spots and room on popular trails. Cramming all those people into the narrow confines of Zion where most visitors want to see the same iconic slot canyons and trails has led many days to hour-long waits to get in the park, lots that fill up by 9 a.m. and crowded shuttles, Marciano said. Visitors are also parking cars on native vegetation or fragile alpine tundra and leaving human waste right near backcountry trails, Patterson said. After Yellowstone hit 4 million visitors for the time in 2015, park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said the park last year the "Yellowstone Pledge" urging visitors to follow guidelines that include not stopping on the side of the road to look at bears and staying on boardwalks.




Rideshare regulations speed through Missouri House

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:57:23 UT

Legislators are taking another crack at a proposal that would require a yearly $5,000 registration fee, local and national driver background checks, vehicle inspections, and exempt such companies from local or municipal taxes. Proponents hope regulations will bring jobs to people looking for employment as "private contractors" who can make their own hours. Critics argue that the regulations don't go far enough to ensure passenger safety, saying driver insurance requirements are too lax and the background checks aren't sufficient. Some lawmakers are concerned about the loss of revenue from the tax exemptions. With a projected budget deficit of more than $40 million for this fiscal year, some lawmakers say the exemption from local and state taxes could deprive the state of much-needed revenue.



Quaker group marks centennial with 'Waging Peace' exhibit

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:12:23 UT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The American Friends Service Committee is celebrating 100 years of nonviolent activism with an exhibition, "Waging Peace," that showcases the group's accomplishments while also illustrating work that remains to be done. The centennial exhibit, on display at the African American Museum of Philadelphia through April 30, is divided into four categories: "Ending Discrimination," ''Addressing Prisons," ''Just Economies," and "Immigrants Rights." "Ending Discrimination" includes two 8-by-8-foot photos, one showing shows a group of civil activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. facing a wall of police officers in the 1960s, the other taken in Baltimore in 2015 after Freddie Gray died in police custody. In "Addressing Prisons," visitors can crowd onto a floor mat that mimics the size and shape of the 5-by-7-foot solitary confinement cell that committee employee Ojore Lutalo occupied for more than 20 years.



Repaired and ready: Venue where a young Dylan played reopens

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:06:10 UT

[...] just about everything else about a venue that bills itself as the nation's oldest continuously operating coffeehouse has undergone some major upgrades as part of a $2 million renovation project bankrolled in part by folk music performers themselves. The same brown wooden shutters bracket the windows and the same exposed brick wall provides background for the corner where he sang and played acoustic guitar during weekend performances in 1961 and '62. Yet when the newly installed lighting dims and the night's performer hits the first chord, Caffe Lena still has the intimate setting that generations of musicians and folk music fans have come to revere. Under a philanthropic partnership with a local developer, the organization turned over its adjacent small parking lot to the builder, who's constructing a four-story building that will house condos and retail businesses. Volunteers and later the nonprofit group formed in the 1990s have kept her place open for new generations of folk music fans.



Peru to begin cleaning up South America's largest lake

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:43:55 UT

The rapid expansion of towns and factories near the lake has contributed to runoff that has turned once crystal azure waters a murky green and destroyed the livelihood of thousands of fisherman.



Driverless electric shuttle being tested in downtown Vegas

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:21:46 UT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — There's a new thrill on the streets of downtown Las Vegas, where high- and low-rollers alike are climbing aboard what officials call the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street. The oval-shaped shuttle began running Tuesday as part of a 10-day pilot program, carrying up to 12 passengers for free along a short stretch of the Fremont Street East entertainment district. Higgins said it's the company's first test of the shuttle on a public street in the U.S. A similar shuttle began testing in December at a simulated city environment at a University of Michigan research center. Las Vegas city community development chief Jorge Cervantes said plans call for installing transmitters at the Fremont Street intersections to communicate red-light and green-light status to the shuttle.



During Mardi Gras season, tradition takes the (king) cake

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 20:43:09 UT

Boston takes the cakes to his mother in Baton Rouge on the weekends — she's loyal to the Randazzo brand. [...] Mardi Gras ends Feb. 28, king cakes are everywhere. Neighborhood bars serve them — nothing goes better with beer than dough, cinnamon and frosting. [...] few places take the tradition as seriously as New Orleans, where everyone seems to be wiping the signature colored sugar from their mouths. Todd Duvio's family moved away years ago but hand carried four king cakes on the return flight to California after Christmas. Jackie-Sue Scelfo, a Gambino's Bakery spokeswoman, says it's often based on what people were brought up on, what Mom and Grandma ate. McKenzie's, a longtime New Orleans bakery chain, inspired that kind of loyalty with a fairly simple king cake with no fillings, brushed with simple syrup and sprinkled with colored sugar. Maggie Scales, executive pastry chef for the Donald Link Restaurant Group, moved to the city six years ago, knowing nothing of king cakes or the rush surrounding them. [...] she oversees a pastry empire that includes traditional French-style king cake (two layers of puff pastry with almond cream in the middle and none of that American colored sugar), a more New Orleans-style king cake in an oval shape, and the Elvis king cake which is as decadent as the king himself.



MLK "war room" is the heart of a new national monument

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:25:12 UT

In the spring of 1963, King stayed at the A.G. Gaston Motel while planning protests against legalized segregation in Birmingham, a bastion of racial hatred marred by years of bombings and other attacks on blacks. Laser guides recently used to measure the room's dimensions hang inside; an interior wall has a big hole where workers checked the structure for environmental hazards. About 60 miles east of Birmingham, the Freedom Riders National Monument created by Obama will include a yet-to-be restored Greyhound bus station where a racially integrated bus of activists was attacked by whites in 1961. [...] in Beaufort County, South Carolina, the Reconstruction Era National Monument features a community built by freed slaves after the Civil War.