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New rules for red light, speed cameras kick in

DES MOINES -- New rules will soon go into effect that give state transportation officials control over whether speed and red-light cameras are placed by cities and counties on state-supervised highways and interstates.

The Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee, a group of five Democrats and five Republicans, did not vote on the rules Friday. That means the regulations will go into effect Wednesday.

The rules will require local agencies to show cameras are targeting "high-crash or high-risk locations." They will have to justify renewal every year.

Local officials have criticized the rules, saying the state is taking away local control.

Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City have cameras on interstates that would be regulated by the new rules. The state has no laws governing their use.


Bills seek to address air ambulance service

JUNEAU -- Southeast Alaska lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow air-ambulance providers to offer medevac services in membership programs.

Rep. Cathy Munoz, in her sponsor statement, said such programs can save Alaskans out-of-pocket costs.

She said more than 3,200 residents in southeast Alaska took advantage of that type of program before the state Division of Insurance last year found the business model no longer met legal exemptions. The bills, introduced in the state House and Senate, would set out terms under which the programs could continue.

Joining Munoz on the House bill are Reps. Peggy Wilson and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. The Senate bill is by Sens. Bert Stedman and Dennis Egan.


Community sharing propane gas in crisis

AMBERG -- Residents and businesses in northern Wisconsin are helping neighbors make it through the region's propane shortage.

Press-Gazette Media reported that residents in Amberg have shared supplies of the gas, used for heating and cooking.

Wisconsin is one of several Midwest states struggling with a propane shortage after farmers' late harvests depleted regional supplies. Farmers use the gas to dry crops for storage.

State officials loosened highway regulations and provided state and federal aid to residents. Business owners said they've made late- night deliveries to residents with low supplies.


Burroughs' estate gifts final journals to KU

LAWRENCE -- The final personal journals of novelist William S. Burroughs have been donated to the University of Kansas.

Burroughs lived in Lawrence from 1982 until his death in 1997. Besides the journals, the donation to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library includes typescripts and editing materials. The materials were the source for "Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs," published in 2000.

Estate executor James Grauerholz said in a university news release that the school was a fitting recipient because Burroughs wrote his last books, painted his first and last paintings and jotted down his last words in Lawrence.

Burroughs, novelist Jack Kerouac and others became known in the 1950s and 1960s as the Beat Generation of writers who railed against the mainstream.


Ammonia leak, fire shut

beef-processing plant

SCHUYLER -- An ammonia leak and fire have closed down a beef- processing plant in eastern Nebraska, but no employees were injured.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that workers at the Cargill plant in Schuyler detected the ammonia leak around 3:40 a.m. Thursday. Smoke and flames were reported several minutes later above an area where beef carcasses are trimmed to smaller cuts.

Company spokesman Mike Martin said local authorities responded and the fire was quickly extinguished. …