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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Kobach brings gun float to another Kansas parade … torrential rains swamp Houston … and a tornado touches down in a Minnesota city.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, July 5, 2018. Here’s our special July 4 roundup of state and local government news around the United States, which celebrated its 242nd birthday on Wednesday.
- Mayors, governors and other public officials joined newly sworn-in U.S. citizens from around the world at July 4 naturalization ceremonies, which in many places are as much of an Independence Day tradition as parades and fireworks. That included Northampton, Massachusetts, where 58 immigrants were sworn in as citizens. “We hear a lot about the greatness of our country, and whether it’s great and if it’s still great,” Mayor David Narkewicz said on Wednesday, looking out over those about to become citizens. “To me, this is the greatness of our country.” Following a naturalization ceremony in Seattle, where 500 new U.S. citizens were sworn in, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. “On the day we celebrate our nation’s birth, let’s remain resolute in providing a safe haven for families fleeing danger from around the world,” Inslee tweeted. [Daily Hampshire Gazette; @MayorNarkewicz; @GovInslee]
- In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican running for governor, rode in another parade atop a jeep with a replica machine gun, this time in Lenexa. Kobach’s Old Shawnee Days Parade float took many parade-goers by surprise on June 3 and prompted the Shawnee city government to issue a statement apologizing for the safety fears. “I said I'm not going to back down I'm going to double down. So we’re taking it to more parades than we would have otherwise,” Kobach said before Wednesday’s parade.[KSHB]
- Current and former employees from The Capital Gazette newspaper, which was the scene of a recent mass shooting, participated in Annapolis, Maryland’s July 4 parade and “marched down Main Street to the sound of supportive whistles, hollers and applause.” [The Baltimore Sun; @PhilDavis_CG]
- Aspen, Colorado was among the many communities in western states facing wildfire concerns to turn to a fireworks alternative for traditional July 4 explosives display—in the form of aerial drones equipped with LED lights. [CityLab; The New York Times]
- Facing “exceptional drought” in their community, officials in Prescott, Arizona decided to move the city’s July 4 fireworks to a Sept. 22 Oktoberfest celebration instead. [Insurance Journal]
- Moscow, Idaho didn’t need to cancel any local fireworks shows due to wildfire risk. That’s because the city hasn’t had a fireworks show in 15 years due to lack of funding. [Moscow-Pullman Daily News]
- Torrential rainfall in Houston, Texas—as much as 7 inches in some places—caused water levels in local bayous to rise quickly and flood low-lying roadways on Wednesday and prompting local authorities to cancel some July 4 festivities and warn against travel in the city. [Houston Chronicle]
- A weather system that brought an EF-1 tornado to Bemidji, Minnesota on July 4 forced local officials across the North Star State to cancel Independence Day celebrations. In Duluth, Fourth Fest was postponed and will instead go on as Fifth Fest on Thursday. [Bemidiji Pioneer; Pioneer Press / TwinCities.com; Duluth News Tribune]
- In Bristol, Rhode Island, first responders at a July 4 parade treated 50 people for heat exhaustion. [The Providence Journal]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is base in Seattle.