Derek Mason (AP Photo/File)NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville artist has finished retouching a mural of Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason after the school’s NAACP chapter complained about the original one.Vanderbilt chapter president Akailah Harris says members started a petition for change because they felt the portrait was “reminiscent of the minstrelsy era in which Black people’s skin was darkened and their lips were made whiter in order to exaggerate their race.”Muralist Michael Cooper told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1mckY9c) that he was surprised by the complaints about the original, but decided to make changes after talking with those who commissioned the portrait.“I had nothing but positive comments — from the public, especially. . ‘Excellent.’ ‘Great job.’ ‘Fabulous.’“Then to say that what I did was basically racist, it absolutely floored me,” he said.He said the changes he made on Saturday included a few highlights, some reflection, facial features and details.“I am not a controversial artist,” he said. “I am not out there on the edge. I am not out there to make a statement. The stuff I do is fun. I want people to smile and have a good time and enjoy what I do.”Casey Summar, executive director of the Arts & Business Council, said no piece of public art is going to please everyone, and “an artist has to know their integrity and know what pieces are critical to their body of work and what changes will alter the integrity of the work.”She said the mural of the Vanderbilt coaches is different “because it is representative of a living, breathing person and something that is commissioned.”“It does change the understanding,” she said. “It’s not so much an artistic statement as it is portraying a real person in the community.”Cooper says despite the uproar, he’s proud of how the final version turned out.“There were some things I felt I could have changed to make him even better, and I did,” he said. “Of all the portraits on the wall, I think he turned out the best. I am really proud of it.”___Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
From left, Rita Jeptoo, Shalane Flanagan, Yeshi Esayias, Buzunesh Deba, Mare Dibaba, and Jemima Jelagat Sumgong run shortly after the start in the women’s division of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)BOSTON (AP) — Rita Jeptoo of Kenya successfully defended the Boston Marathon title she said she could not enjoy a year ago after the fatal bombings.Jeptoo finished Monday’s race in a course-record 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds. She becomes the seventh three-time Boston Marathon champion.Jeptoo broke away from a group of five runners at the 23-mile mark. Buzunesh Deba finished second with an unofficial time of 2:19:59.American Shalane Flanagan finished seventh after leading for more than half the race. She took a gamble by setting the early pace. She ran her first mile in 5 minutes, 11 seconds, but fell back on the Newton Hills about 21 miles into the race.
HIGH ABOVE THE REST—Doing a full split 4-5 feet over the balance beam is world champion and already national champion Simome Biles during the second day senior women’s competition. (Photos by J.L. Martello)PITTSBURGH (AP)—Simone Biles hopped off the beam, cut her longtime coach Aimee Boorman a knowing look and went in for a relieved hug.Turns out nobody’s perfect, not even the best gymnast on the planet. Guess Biles will have to settle for being as close as the sport gets at the moment.The bubbly 17-year-old easily captured her second straight U.S. women’s gymnastics national title on Saturday night to set the stage for an even bigger title defense this fall.Biles posted a two-day total of 122.550, more than four points clear of Kyla Ross. She did it despite a late stumble on beam that never threatened her grip on the top of the podium but left her with something to work on heading into the world championships in China in six weeks.“I’ll think over and over again about beam,” Biles said.The rest of the world has a bigger problem: figuring out how to close the seemingly widening gap between Biles and everyone else.
ANTONIO BROWN JUMP-KICKS SPENCER LANNING (Photo by Julio Lopez)PITTSBURGH—Antonio Brown apparently is taking a preemptive approach to delivering blows rather than absorbing them.Brown jumped-kicked Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning at the end of a 46-yard punt return in the second quarter Sunday, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 30-27 victory.Brown only had Lanning to beat for a touchdown in the second quarter. But he ended up kicking Lanning in the face when it initially looked like he would try to jump over the second-year punter.“No intent to hurt him,” Brown said. “I had my mind made up that he was going over me. I thought he was going low and I tried to leap over him. It was just a bad outcome of a play.”Brown, who finished with 116 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, could face a fine from the NFL after the league reviews the play.
Facebook44Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Adopt-A-PetMeet Roxie! Are you a single person or a couple looking for a companion who is the perfect combination of Labrador Retriever and Min Pin? Roxie is sweet and shy with ears that stand part way up only to flop over in an adorable fashion. She is mostly shiny black, has a white and polka-dotted chest, with subtle brown highlights. At thirty-eight pounds, she is just the right size to be your new best friend. Roxie is getting to know the shelter volunteers, and enjoys sitting with them on her blanket in her ‘suite’.Roxie is a sweet and shy girl looking for a quiet home and someone to love her. Photo courtesy: Adopt-A-PetRoxie is currently in the market for a loving home with no other dogs, cats or children. She does need a grain-free diet, lots of love, and she promises to pay you back in unlimited devotion. If you would like to meet me in person or have further questions, please contact the adoption team at Shelton Adopt-A-Pet.Adopt-A-Pet has many great dogs and always need volunteers. To see all our current dogs, visit the Adopt-A-Pet website, our Facebook page or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton. For more information, email email@example.com or call 360-432-3091.
Facebook12Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Adopt-A-PetMeet Rocco! He is a handsome and strong Husky-Lab mix with a shiny chestnut-brown coat. He will wrinkle his forehead when listening, he aims to please, and is looking for leadership to build his confidence. Because he is strong, (active, seventy-three pounder), children should be older 13+ and dog-savvy. Rocco will shake your hand and sit when you meet him, and he is willing to meet other dogs.Rocco is smart Husky-Lab mix looking for a partner. Photo courtesy: Adopt-a-Pet SheltonA cat free home is required for this good boy. If you are looking for a great dog and can provide Rocco with a grain-free diet, fenced yard, and your love and quality time, he might be the companion for you have been looking for.Adopt-A-Pet has many great dogs and always need volunteers. To see all our current dogs, visit the Adopt-A-Pet website, our Facebook page or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-432-3091.
Facebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Thurston County Board of County CommissionersLake Lawrence has a toxic algae bloom. The Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department (PHSS) received lab results showing that the bloom is producing high levels of microcystin. Microcystin is a liver toxin which accumulates over time. High accumulation of this toxin can cause sickness, or even death.Reports show toxin levels at the sample site are 215 micrograms per liter. The Washington State Department of Health advisory level for recreation is 6 micrograms per liter. The public fishing access to the lake has been closed, and danger signs have been posted at the boat launch.Public Health also advises residents and the public:Do not swim, fish, or use the lake for recreation.Do not allow pets to swim in, or drink water from the lake.The health advisory for Lake Lawrence will remain in place until samples are within safe levels for two consecutive weeks. Testing will continue until the samples are within safe limits for two consecutive weeks.For more information about blue-green algae and the County lakes program, visit the County’s Blue-Green Algae Advisories website. You can sign up to receive email algae alerts on the website or by calling 360-867-2645. Frequently Asked Questions about microcystin and other algal toxins are posted on the County Algae page.Featured photo credit: Kim Merriman
Facebook258Tweet0Pin1Submitted by City of OlympiaIn early February, a new tiny house village for 40 homeless individuals will open its doors in Olympia. The public is invited to learn more about Plum Street Village at an information meeting on Thursday, January 17, at 6:00 p.m., in Room A of the Olympia Center, located at 222 Columbia St. NW. Following a presentation by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), there will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions about the project.An additional opportunity to learn about Plum Street Village will be an open house at the village on Thursday, January 31, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. The village is located at 830 Union Ave SE, which is the City’s former plant nursery behind the Yashiro Japanese Garden. Come see the facility before residents move in and learn more about the operation and the volunteer builders who made it happen.About Plum Street VillageThe City of Olympia is leasing property and providing funding to the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) for the operation of this village. The village will include about 30 tiny houses for individuals and couples without children. Each unit is 8′ x 12′, is insulated, has electricity and heat, a window and a lockable door. The facility will also include a security house, a communal kitchen, meeting space, bathrooms, showers, laundry, a case management office and 24/7 staffing.This facility will allow some of Olympia’s most vulnerable unhoused residents to have a safe and secure place while transitioning to permanent housing. The Plum Street Tiny House Village will be an integral aspect of the housing continuum and connect residents to necessary services. LIHI Case Managers work with village residents to help them obtain housing, employment, health care, treatment, education, and other services.About LIHILIHI is a nonprofit developer and operator of over 2,200 units of affordable housing in the Puget Sound region, including Olympia and Lacey in Thurston County. They own and manage four buildings in the county including: Billy Frank Jr Place, Fleetwood Apartments, Magnolia Villa and Arbor House. LIHI has developed 10 Tiny House Villages in Seattle and has consulted on the development and operation of others across the state and country. The Seattle program has helped over 400 people transition into long-term housing, assisted over 200 in gaining employment, and has served and supported over 2,000 people.Learn MoreYou are can learn more about the City’s homeless response at our website: olympiawa.gov/homelessness. In a few weeks, the City of Olympia will launch a community-led planning process to determine how we, along with regional partners, will respond long-term to homelessness and its impacts. To receive updates about this and other homeless response actions, please sign up for email updates at olympiawa.gov/subscribe.
By Muriel J. SmithRUMSON – After hearing 40 minutes of reports from the education, policy and ad hoc committees on book selections for juniors and seniors, the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Board of Education, in informal action, praised the findings of the committees which all recommended that regardless of parental opinions that two books were deemed obscene because of their content and language, both should remain required reading.Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who with her husband led the move that eventually had 325 parents sign petitions to have “Cal” and “Death and the Maiden” not be banned, but to permit alternative selections for their being required reading, expressed disappointment at the reports and pointed out that the parents who protested to the required reading were not shown any respect. “There is a strong current of hypocrisy at RFH,” she told The Two River Times. “Ironically after the last BOE meeting … the senior parents received a letter from the administration that said, ‘No costumes are permitted that are of fensive to any sexual orientation preference or to any national, ethnic, religious or gender groups.’ Yet these books … of fend 325 parents and they are not only allowed but required reading. The administration places demands on students and parents in regards to areas that they deem important, yet a group of 325 parents gets zero respect or consideration. They do not tolerate or respect our wishes which are simply that our children receive an education where the bar is raised.”In the school library, which ironically had two posters promoting Banned Books Week, the board heard lengthy reports from member Sarah Maris, who explained the ad hoc committee had met for two hours and reviewed all the complaints about “Cal” and “Death and the Maiden,” and Lourdes Lucas of the policy committee, who said it is important for students to become “comfortable with the uncomfortable.”Maris said the committee found that the coarse language included in the books is common and gave a stronger understanding of the situation described in the book. Language and sexual scenes in “Cal” were not designed to titillate, she said, but rather tell the struggles of the people involved. She said the committee found that the brief sexual sections in the book should not shock students. Earlier in her report, the board member had pointed out the health classes and grade levels in the school’s education policy including anatomy and sexual education in freshman year, family structures, sexuality values, birth control and respect in the junior year, along with the mechanics of sexual function and social behavior, and a refresher in senior year, all were positive educational areas in the health curriculum.The committee reports indicated that analyzing quotations and critical thinking are important areas of education to prepare high school students for the challenges of college, and changing the program to include alternative reading of other selections for students whose parents objected to these two books would not be effective and would require more of the teacher’s time since common reading and discussion is important towards those goals.Maris said it “would be a nightmare for parents to choose and against our goal for educational excellence.” Teachers would talk in advance to students about uncomfortable passages, she said, and if a student is uncomfortable, there are many professionals in the building, in addition to their own parents, to whom they could talk. In reading the reports, Maris alluded to premature ejaculation explained in health classes, then shuddered and added, “I can’t believe I said that at a board of education meeting.”Board member Lourdes Lucas gave two reports from committees, noting it was good that concerns were raised since it gave the board the opportunity to review the entire policy. She indicated it was a high school requirement to assist students to “be comfortable with the uncomfortable” before they enter college. The committee did recommend greater transparency but found the policy on the mechanics for raising concerns is sufficient as it stands. Lucas continued that the educators select the books to help students understand the complex truths of the world and for their literary and educational value. She conceded in the report that there is no written policy on book selection, but students and parents have the right to discuss the selections.Others at the public hearing following the report reading both praised and criticized the work of the committees, with some saying the ad hoc committee, which included the English Department chairman, the principal who had openly opposed any change at the October board meeting, and the librarian who works under the principal “doomed any changes before they even met.”After the public hearing, when many of the parents had left the meeting, Board President Lisa Waters invited board members to express their opinions of the reports. Most praised the detail, research and time the committees spent in compiling their report, noting it had been a vigorous process.
By Joseph SapiaIn an effort to bring attention to the farming in Monmouth County, the county government is kicking off a “Grown in Monmouth” promotion of farm products.Farmers and farm-related business owners are invited to the first “Grown in Monmouth” meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Rutgers University Research Center, 283 Route 539, in Upper Freehold.“We need more marketing of American produce,” said Monmouth County Agricultural Agent William J. Sciarappa. “We’re getting overwhelmed with imports – Mexico, South America, Europe.”The county is hoping farmers – along with large consumers of food such as restaurants and schools, agricultural money-lenders, municipal officials and other interested – show up.“We have some of the best produce in the world right here in Monmouth County and endorsing these products on a larger scale is long overdue,” said Lillian G. Burry, a member of the county Board of Freeholders and its farming liaison.“An important part of this project will be to conduct research to gain a comprehensive understanding of not only the needs of the county’s agricultural industry, but also the needs of local and regional buyers in order to develop a strategy to foster successful business relationships,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone.At the meeting, those involved will explain the idea of the program, seek feedback from attendees and distribute a survey – gathering information on what farmers are producing and related data, along with who is willing to participate in the program, said John Ciufo, Economic Development’s executive director.Cows sun themselves at W.H. Potter Farm in Holmdel Tuesday. Photo: Joseph SapiaThe county says it also wants to learn how the home-grown products are distributed and the challenges of distribution, then following up by developing strategies to overcome the challenges.Longer-term goals would include marketing county-grown items, according to the county. The program would not interfere with county-grown products being sold out of county, said Laura Kirkpatrick, director of the county Department of Public Information and Tourism.For now, farmers are waiting for the meeting to hear what is said.“I’ve got to find out a little bit more about it,” said William Potter III of the W.H. Potter and Son farm and home and garden center on Red Hill Road in Holmdel.Potter said he plans to attend the meeting because he is a farmer – who raises cows, sheep and goats and because he is on the county Agriculture Development Board, of which he is chairman.Grown in Monmouth is an idea originated in county government and began taking shape about 18 months ago, Ciufo said. The county took the idea to the federal Department of Agriculture and was awarded an $80,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant in November.With another $80,000 of in-kind services, the Grown in Monmouth initiative is beginning, the latest program of Grow Monmouth.“This is another way the county aims to help local and small businesses,” Arnone said.Grown in Monmouth will be a joint project of the freeholders, Economic Development, Public Information and Tourism, county Division of Planning, and the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension.Grow Monmouth dates back about six years, Arnone said. It is “an initiative of going to and giving information to municipalities, chambers of commerce, to know the county is behind economic development,” Arnone said.“Not only to bring business in, but retention (of business) in the county,” Arnone said.One of Grow Monmouth’s programs dates back to 2012: Made in Monmouth is a free event at Monmouth University for local vendors to sell products – such as food, furniture, jewelry, and clothes – manufactured in the county. About 2,500 people have visited each event and more than 200 sellers are expected at this year’s event on April 9, according to county officials.Grown in Monmouth has hired Spinelli and Pinto Consulting of Chester – in a contract not to exceed $68,173 – to analyze Monmouth County farming, Arnone said. An initial study should be wrapped up in a year, Ciufo said.The county also has been developing a logo for Grown in Monmouth.“We want to brand this,” Ciufo said.The grant’s focus will be on 13 county municipalities considered all or partly rural by the federal agriculture department: Allentown, Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Township, Holmdel, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Millstone, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold and Wall. But county officials emphasized all 53 county municipalities are welcome to take advantage of the program.Although the program applies to all-Monmouth grown, it likely has more practical application to “high-value, human food crops, Christmas trees, and nursery stock,” Sciarappa said. Field crops, such as soybeans and feed corn, normally do not go directly to the consumer.Some farmers may have farm markets and have websites to connect directly to consumers, but they may not be able to afford advertising, he said. “It’s mostly word-of-mouth. So, we’re just trying to get the promotion out for Monmouth-grown.”The county consistently ranks in the top 3 of New Jersey’s 21 counties in agricultural production, Sciarappa said. He added the county has another thing going for it.“We’re the most diverse (growing) county in New Jersey,” Sciarappa said. “We grow everything from asparagus to zucchini.”“The agricultural groups are very excited about (now) being recognized,” Burry said. “They feel they may be somewhat overlooked.”“If we could make this successful, this could spread,” Sciarappa said. “The more brains get involved, we could really create a template for the whole state.”There is no pre-registration for the meeting, but more information is available from the county Division of Economic Development by calling 732-431-7470.