A school district in New York has decided to limit students to dispensing two 9-gram packs of condiments per meal, Newsday reported.
Eastport-South Manor Assistant Superintendent Timothy Laube sent a letter to parents Tuesday that explained that the condiment crackdown was a move toward healthier eating habits for children and stricter adherence to federal and state nutrition guidelines, the newspaper reported.
Children will still be allowed to bring extra condiment packets to school. Laube wrote.
Last year, the school adopted packets after moving away from pump dispensers, Newsday reported.
"I haven't seen any kids complaining about ketchup, and I talk to the cashier staff and the kids don't seem to have an issue with it," Laube told the newspaper.
School board member Jeff Goldhammer said the new guidelines “are not a big deal” to his three school-age children, Newsday reported..
"I can understand it seems like a silly issue, but kids are only supposed to have a certain amount of calories,” Goldhammer told the newspaper.
A group of Georgia inmates are opening up about a heartfelt letter they sent to the sheriff in the wake of an officer's death in the line of duty.
Officer Antwan Toney, 30, was shot and killed by a suspect while responding to a call on Oct. 21. The suspect was later killed by police.
Last week, Sheriff Butch Conway shared a letter on Facebook signed by a Gwinnett County inmate "on behalf of myself and a number of fellow prisoners who are currently serving time."
The handwritten letter honored Toney and expressed solidarity between inmates and police. It was signed by at least 20 inmates.
"I wish to extend condolences to officer Toney's family and the G.C.S.O. (Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office) as a whole," it reads. "This was a tragic incident that never should have occurred. And though law enforcement and criminals may be considered opposites, the intrinsic value of a human life transcends those boundaries by far."
The letter thanks all police officers, military personnel and first responders.
"Your service and sacrifice make the world a better place for all," it reads.
Conway originally redacted the names of the inmates who signed the letter to protect their privacy. But their words struck a chord.
Leroy Dollar, who originally wrote the letter, said his initial motivation was thinking of his own grandchildren and how they would feel if something like that happened to him.
"I felt a measure of empathy with the family," Dollar said. "I wanted to write and express condolences. It was just senseless and tragic."
Dollar also felt that maybe the letter was a way to show that people aren't all that different, no matter what divides us.
"I know that some people see certain stereotypes, that people see you in the green and other people are hostile to police officers," Dollar said. "But we're all the same as a whole in regards to what color uniform you wear. Right is right and wrong is wrong."
Tarazzo Anderson said Dollar approached him after church and asked if he would sign. Anderson, who said he is a first-time inmate, said he was all for it.
"He came to me and I said, 'Yeah. Show them that we've got integrity, too. We don't hate them," Anderson said. "We love them because God loves them. Let this show that we're not all bad guys. And they're not all bad guys."
Larry Richards had said he just felt sorry for the family, and that Toney's death was senseless.
"It was a stupid thing that happened," Richards said. "I couldn't believe that he would get killed just walking up to a car... and lost his life for actually nothing."
Thomas asked Douglas Phillips what their broader message was.
"We're all one species of one part of one unit of one whole, and we should all have care and respect for each other," Phillips. "No matter what happens, we're part of the grand plan and should work towards bringing peace and unity to all aspects of life."
Anderson said he hopes the letter proves that inmates are just like everyone else.
"We're still human. We've still got emotions. We still have family," Anderson said. "Not everybody is always who they are labeled to be. A loss is a loss, regardless."
A longtime substitute teacher at a suburban St. Louis high school said school administrators banned him after he thanked students for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Jim Furkin, who taught for 10 years as a Parkway South High School substitute in Manchester, Missouri, said the ban was mandated after a student complained, the newspaper reported. At a meeting of the Parkway School Board on Wednesday. Furkin asked school administrators to look into the situation.
“I’d like to know what happened,” Furkin said.
In late October, Furkin said he was substituting for a freshman English class when the school made its morning announcements over the public address system, the Post-Dispatch reported. After announcements, students are asked to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
“So I say, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and we recite the pledge,” Furkin told the newspaper. “There are always two or three who don’t stand up because it’s not required. So at the end of the pledge I said, ‘Thanks to all of you that participated in that. I’m sure that all of those families who lost loved ones so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today would appreciate the effort.’”
When a student asked Furkin if he could go to the school guidance counselor’s office, he wrote the child a pass, the Post-Dispatch reported. Questioned later in the day about the pledge, Furkin recounted his story, the newspaper reported. The administrator told him the student was “hurt” by his comments, Furkin said.
“I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, that wasn’t my intent at all,’” Furkin told the Post-Dispatch. “He said ‘We’ll get back to you,’ and then the next day after that, I’m no longer welcome in the building.”
Furkin said he was told by Kelly Educational Staffing, the agency the school district uses to hire substitute teachers, that he would no longer be allowed to teach at the school because he “bullied” a student, the newspaper reported.
“To me personally, the flag represents freedom, and there’s a lot of price that’s been paid for the freedom we have today,” Furkin said. “That’s all I’m saying to the kids. ... Could somebody feel offended by that? I would hope not. But like I said at the (school board) meeting, when you say something, you don’t know how someone else is going to perceive it.”
A Parkway spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday that the district would make a statement after officials had gathered more information about the incident. Kelly Educational Staffing did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the newspaper reported.
A North Carolina woman who forgot to buy soap while shopping decided to buy a lottery ticket when she walked back into the store.
Doralee Preston-Price cleaned up big time, winning $200,000 on a holiday scratch-off ticket, WRAL reported.
While driving home after shopping, the Fayetteville resident realized she didn’t buy soap, the television station reported.
“I figured it would be cheaper to go to the Dollar Tree nearby (to get the soap),” she said. “They were closed, so instead I went back to Food Lion.”
Preston-Price did not immediately scratch off the winning ticket she bought Monday, leaving it in her purse for a few days. She said that Wednesday. She was folding laundry and watching a movie when she remembered that she had the scratch-offs and a $5 Mega Bucks ticket, the television station reported.
“I scratched the first ticket and didn’t win anything. I scratched this ticket and got through the first row but went back to watching the movie because it was a dance scene,” Preston-Price told the Fayetteville Observer. “I almost threw the ticket away, but then something just said, ‘Look back down.’”
Preston-Price did, and called her mother to confirm that she had the winning numbers. Assured that the ticket was a winner, Preston-Price and her mother drove to lottery headquarters in Raleigh to validate the ticket, WRAL reported.
After taxes, Preston-Price will take home $141,003, the television station reported.
She said she planned to use some of her winnings to go on a Disney cruise with her husband and son.
A Georgia toddler allegedly shot and killed himself Thursday, police said.
Investigators said they were called to a residence in Jonesboro around noon Thursday about the shooting.
Police said the child’s father, Johnathan Butler, 31, was asleep in his bed when the 2-year-old climbed into bed with him.
Officers said the toddler grabbed a handgun that was under a pillow in the bed and pulled the trigger, shooting himself.
The child was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
Police have not said if any charges are being filed against the parents. The mother was also home at the time. She was in another room at the time of the shooting.
Fossils believed to be more than 11,000 years old were found by two employees of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, KXAS reported.
Pieces of a mammoth’s tooth and a bison thigh bone were found in a creek at the airport, WFAA reported.
“Two employees of the airport’s Environmental Affairs Department found the tooth while conducting routine field tests for potential impacts to the environment,” an airport spokesman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an email.
The fossils were found on Nov. 2 and 3 by Brandon Burks and Roger Duval, WFAA reported.
Burks told the television station that he originally thought the fossils were rocks.
"(They were) completely exposed, you know, it wasn't buried at all, which was interesting," Burks said.
Duval, an amateur fossil hunter, had a stronger reaction.
“He kind of put them together and was like, 'You know what, this could be a mammoth tooth,'" Burks told WFAA. "We kind of freaked out."
The fossils will be moved from the airport to SMU for cataloguing and further study, the television station reported.
A Connecticut mother is angry after she said her 17-year-old son’s hair was set on fire, WTNH reported.
Vivian Mabry, the teen’s mother, said the alleged attack occurred Oct. 26 at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven, the television station reported.
Mabry said her son was sitting in piano class when a 15-year-old classmate held a lighter to his head and began burning it, WTNH reported.
"How did this kid get a lighter in school?" Mabry asked the television station. "I want them to rectify this. I want them to fix it. I want some sort of plan put in place.”
The 15-year-old received a five-day suspension, and Mabry told WTNH she was never contacted by the school or the school district.
"I didn't receive a letter. I didn't receive a phone call,” Mabry told the television station. “I didn't receive anything from the nurse telling me my child was OK or if he was injured."
A school spokesman told WTNH that initial efforts to reach Mabry failed, but school officials eventually met with her.
In a statement, William Clark, the school’s CEO, called the incident “minor.”
“Police, security, school and emergency responders and nurse engaged,” Clark said. “The alleged victim was treated at school and did not require any further treatment."
The lead singer in a Florida-based rock band was arrested Nov. 8 on charges of sex crimes involving a teenager.
Chad Valeu, 42, of Jacksonville, was charged with unlawful sexual activity with a teen, between the age of 16 and 17, and possession of child porn.
Valeu is the second member of the band, Near Empty, arrested on child porn charges.
Police said the victim’s mother came forward after finding explicit pictures on her daughter’s phone.
The report said the victim met Valeu through Facebook and he came to her house, where they had consensual sex.
Police said they found sexually explicit photographs that the suspect and victim sent to each other.
Valeu was the lead singer in Near Empty. Following his arrest, the band posted on Facebook that the group was parting ways.
The post said in part, “The time has come for us to say goodbye [sic]. We would like to thank each and everyone of you for all of your support over the past couple years.”
In June, 42-year-old Adam Ingram, the band’s bass player, was arrested after police said he produced child porn.
A member of Near Empty said Ingram was kicked out of the band immediately after his arrest.
A painting by David Hockney fetched $90.3 million Thursday night, a record price for a living artist’s work, The New York Times reported.
Hockney’s 1972 painting, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),” sold in nine minutes at Christie’s, The Guardian reported.
The British artist’s work topped the previous record of $58.4 million, set in 2013 for one of Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures, the Times reported.
The high bid for the 81-year-old artist’s work was $80 million but soared to $90,312,500 after the buyer’s premium, the Guardian reported.
Bidding quickly reached $70 million among three people in the room and five others calling in, the Times reported. The bidding was decided between two of the telephone callers, the newspaper reported.
“We rarely can say, ‘This is the one opportunity to buy the best painting from the artist.’ This is it,” Ana Maria Celis, vice president of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, told the Guardian before the auction in Manhattan.
The buyer was not identified.
A Wisconsin woman walking her dog Tuesday morning had to remove a drug syringe from the animal’s paw when he stepped on it, WISN reported.
Christina Lawrence and her fiance were walking Jack Daniels, a chocolate lab-golden retriever, when the dog yelped, the television station reported.
"Walking around daily, you see caps (to needles) lying in the road and stuff like that, needles themselves" Kodi Lillie told WISN. "You go up and down 13th (Street) and you see them all over the place."
"It hurts. He's my baby," Lawrence told the television station. "So, I'm just wanting to warn everybody, parents especially."
Veterinarians told WISN that if a dog steps on a sharp object like a needle, make sure the animal gets medical attention. Pet owners also should monitor swelling and watch for infection, the television station reported.
A Massachusetts man was listening to a meditation app in his bedroom when suddenly, things took a chaotic turn with a home invasion.
Two armed teenagers broke into Evan Luongo's home in Lynn. But what they didn't realize is that Luongo, a 37-year-old who keeps a machete under his bed, was fully prepared to defend himself.
“But like, ‘Dude, if we're doing this, we're doing this and you're in my house, so this is going to get ugly,’" Luongo said, recounting the home invasion.
He called it a “moment of conflict.”
"If I go in there, I have to be ready to die, but I may have to be ready to kill someone," he said.
Luongo said he heard breaking glass and "tried to ignore it, saying it was ocean sounds because I was falling asleep."
But he soon realized that someone had made their way into his home through a back slider.
He jumped out of bed to investigate, and instinctively grabbed the machete he keeps under his bed.
"It happened in, like, three seconds but it felt like forever," he said. "I fear if I didn't have the machete, the equation would've been very different."
Wielding that weapon, Luongo went through his house, toward his office, and saw the door closed with the lights on.
"I knew I was embarking into chaos. I knew I didn't know what was on the other side of the door," he said.
He kicked open the door.
"I started screaming drop your (expletive) weapons," Luongo said.
He said the cowering duo obeyed his commands and kept their hands above their heads until police arrived to arrest them.
"I hold no ill will. People do dumb things. I don't want to see them burn," Luongo said. "But in the same sense, don't come back. Please don't come back."
This was a call for Dave Grohl, and the Foo Fighters’ lead singer responded in a big way for firefighters battling the blazes in Southern California.
Grohl used the resources from his company, Backbeat BBQ, to feed firefighters battling the Woolsey Fires in Southern California on Monday night, KSWB reported.
“To all the @losangelesfiredepartment and @lacountyfd heroes we met last night. … thank you,” the drummer wrote on Instagram. “It was an honor to cook for you.”
One of the firefighter’s wives also posted on Instagram. “How cool is this?” she wrote. “Dave Grohl and his family brought home cooked BBQ to babe’s station last night.”
Firestation 68 also thanked Grohl with an Instagram post, writing that it was “awesome” to get a visit from the rocker.
It took more than six decades, but a Minnesota great-grandmother finally wed her teenage sweetheart.
Janet Skillingstad, 82, married Gene Ertel, 81, on Oct. 26 -- 64 years after she broke off their engagement, KARE reported.
“Not too many people get a second chance,” Ertel told the television station.
In 1954, Skillingstad returned the engagement ring Ertel gave her, telling him she wanted to concentrate on nursing school.
“I didn't want to tie him down for three years,” Skillingstad told KARE. “I thought I was doing the right thing at the time.”
The couple moved on, marrying other people and raising families. Both of them lost spouses -- Ertel became a widower twice -- but the teenage boy never forgot his girl.
“I never stopped thinking about her,” Ertel told the television station.
When Ertel was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, he decided to find Skillingstad. He hired a private investigator, who produced a telephone number, KARE reported.
“When I called her, I said, ‘Don't hang up, this is not a prank call,’” Ertel told the television station.
The couple talked for 90 minutes. That blossomed into a visit from Ertel, and then a date.
Two months after the ice-breaking phone call, Ertel gave Skillingstad a ring. This time, she kept it, KARE reported.
Skillingstad’s daughter, Ruth Beniek, said her mother would not reject Ertel this time.
“‘(She said) ‘I couldn't turn him down a second time, that would be devastating,’” Beniek told the television station.
A 15-year-old Florida boy accused of killing his mother will be charged as an adult, State Attorney RJ Larizza said Thursday.
Deputies said Gregory Ramos killed his mother, Gail Cleavenger, Nov. 3 during an argument over his grades at their DeBary home.
Investigators said Ramos buried Cleavenger's body beneath a church fire pit with the help of two friends, Dylan Ceglarek, 17, and Brian Porras, 17.
Ceglarek and Porras will also be charged as adults, Larizza said.
The trio will be transported from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Ramos was charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a dead human body and tampering with evidence.
Ceglarek and Porras were each charged with accessory after the fact.
Each boy is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon.
A 73-year-old Florida woman wanted to make sure what she was smoking was really methamphetamine, so she took the drugs to her doctor for testing.
Polk County resident Barbara Lee Ray said she was “scared” of what smoking it was doing to her, according to the Miami Herald, which cited an arrest affidavit, and brought her doctor at the Complete Care Family Medicine Associates office in Fort Meade two clear plastic bags containing a crystal-like substance on Nov. 5.
Both bags tested positive for meth, the Herald reported.
Although it was unclear how she obtained the drug or why she was smoking it, she did tell her doctor she’s been smoking meth for about a month.
Ray was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of methamphetamine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, the newspaper said.
The arrest warrant said Ray, who was released from jail on Nov. 7, appeared to be under the influence of the drug when she was taken into custody.
A Jacksonville, Florida, man is facing murder charges for his girlfriend’s 2017 death.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said he told officers she committed suicide in a Pine Forest apartment, but JSO's homicide unit says the evidence shows otherwise.
Sean Curtis Lovins, 27, appeared in court on Thursday. Police say it all happened at Dunsford Terrace Apartments.
JSO responded to a report of a woman's suicide on July 29, 2017. Officers found Aunesty Hite, 20, dead inside an apartment with a gunshot wound.
Lovins was arrested on a murder charge on Wednesday.
"Over the past year, various scientific tests were conducted that the victim did in fact not shoot herself," JSO homicide detective Craig Waldrud said. "Evidence indicted the suspect had shot the victim.
“At the time of the incident he (Lovins) was distraught. He just said she had shot herself.”
Was Robert Bivines justified in killing Ryan Thornton? That’s the question jurors must answer when deliberations begin Friday morning.
Bivines, 36, a former Uber Eats driver, has long claimed he shot and killed Thornton, 30, in self-defense after he was threatened while delivering food to Thornton’s Buckhead condominium on the night of Feb. 17.
Bivines is on trial in Fulton County Superior Court this week for the February shooting death of Thornton.
Bivines testified Thursday that Thornton threatened to “(expletive) him up” because he was angry the driver would not bring his food upstairs.
Bivines said Thorton approached him in an aggressive manner and motioned with is hand in his pocket as if he had a gun, so Bivines grabbed his gun, fired four shots at Thornton then drove away, he said.
“I felt harmed,” Bivines said. “I thought he was going to shoot me.”
But prosecutors disputed Bivine’s story noting that no weapon was found on Thornton and he didn’t make a move like he had one, they said.
And if Bivines were truly afraid for his life, they said, he had other options, including calling police or 911 for help.
“Words alone are not sufficient to justify killing someone,” Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Travis said in court Thursday during closing arguments in the case.
Attorney Jackie Patterson said his client panicked.
Surveillance video from that night shows Thorton getting the food and exchanging some words with Bivines.
Bivines admitted to firing four shots, two of which Fulton County prosecutors said were fired after Thornton was already on the ground. He then drove off.
“Anyone involved in a situation like that isn’t going to wait around,” Patterson said about Bivines’ action that night.
Instead of calling the police or 911 for help, prosecutors said Bivines chose to sit at his girlfriend’s job for six hours after the shooting.
Bivines testified he immediately drove to the Cumberland Mall area where his girlfriend worked, and sat there waiting for her shift as a security guard to end. Bivines was expected to pick her up from work and drive them back to their Alpharetta home.
That was 6 a.m.
During those hours waiting, he said he made some phone calls, including one to her, but didn’t tell anyone about the shooting.
And as night turned to day, Bivines said he still hadn’t told anyone.
He wouldn’t talk to anyone about the shooting until he received a call from Atlanta police Detective Andre Lowe asking to come to police headquarters to tell his side of the story.
That night, Bivines said he searched “uber eats driver” and “uber eats driver news” to see what had been reported about the shooting. When he came across an online article identifying him as a potential suspect, he decided to call a lawyer.
Bivines would turn himself in to authorities the Monday after the Saturday shooting.
During testimony this week, Thornton’s fiancee, Jerica Jones, who was at the condo with him, described heaing the shots that killed him, WSB-TV reported. After the shooting, Thornton called his fiancee.
“I hear Ryan’s voice crackling, saying ‘Don’t panic. I’ve been shot,’ and that’s the last time I ever spoke to him,” Jones testified.
During closing arguments, Travis said Bivines aggressively baited Thornton in to coming back to the car and intentionally fired shots at him. Travis criticized Bivines for not remembering details from that night and claimed his conscious kicked in when he was worried about being caught.
Patterson insisted his client stood his ground, but acknowledged the pain of Thornton’s family.
“There are no winners in these kinds of cases,” he said.
Judge Jerry Baxter dismissed jurors home for the day after reading them their instructions. They will begin deliberations at 9:30 a.m.
Bivines faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Two parents from North Carolina were detained in Coweta County, Georgia, on Wednesday after authorities said they kidnapped their own children.
Police found the parents with their two children behind a gas station in Grantville, Assistant Police Chief Cliff Schriefer said.
The man was identified as Christopher Stewart Bryant by a Coweta County sheriff’s official. The woman’s identity was not released, and she was never booked into the jail, the official said.
The children were safe and taken to the Sheriff’s Office.
The parents allegedly took the children from their grandparents, who have legal custody.
FBI agents found the parents by tracking one of their cellphones, and they got a “ping” in Grantville, according to Schriefer. They then called police and the Sheriff’s Office.
North Carolina authorities have taken over the case, according to the sheriff’s official.
A St. Louis ballet dancer was found in a rural Missouri lake Wednesday dead from unknown causes after she disappeared Tuesday, according to news reports.
The body of Raffaella Maria Stroik, 23, was found in Mark Twain State Park, about 100 miles northwest of St. Louis, after a park ranger found her car in the park Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
During a search of the park Wednesday, a pilot flying over the lake spotted her body. There were no obvious signs of foul play, the Post-Dispatch reported, citing the Missouri Highway Patrol, but authorities are continuing to investigate her death.
It’s unclear why she was at the park, but investigators believe her car had been there since at least Monday, CNN reported. She was last seen Monday morning at a Whole Foods store in suburban St. Louis.
The ballet company’s artistic director, Gen Horiuchi, issued a statement Wednesday on Stroik, who joined the company in September 2017.
“She was a wonderful dancer and a beautiful person,” Horiuchi said. “We extend our condolences to her family. We are very sad over the loss of this talented and beautiful spirit.”
Stroik had performed in company productions of “The Nutcracker,” “Giselle,” “Cinderella” and others.
An autopsy on the ballerina was scheduled for Thursday.
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