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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia officials committed to spending up to $60 million to set up state shelters and secure response teams ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Virginia escaped the worst of Florence's wrath after the storm took a southward turn, devastating the Carolinas. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports members of Democratic governor Ralph Northam's administration are defending the costs, but some Republican lawmakers say the high price tag deserves further scrutiny.

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The skull from a whale that washed up at Port Mahon in April of last year has finally made its way to Delaware Museum of Natural History near Greenville.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that it took six volunteers to lift the massive skull onto a platform on Friday to truck it up the facility.

Halsey Spruance, director of the Museum told the newspaper that this was an important environmental find for the region.

It took more than a year to decompose before the Museum made the effort to transport the skull.

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BEAR, Del. (AP) - Investigators say a fire that destroyed a Delaware apartment building was deliberately set.

State fire marshal deputies said a suspect has been arrested and charged with first-degree arson and three counts of reckless endangering. They identified the suspect as 37-year-old Teresa Iocco of Bear.

Iocco was awaiting arraignment late Sunday in the Justice of the Peace Magistrate Court.

The blaze reported in Bear shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday engulfed the three-story building and caused more than $1 million in damage. There were no reported injuries.

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Many people can feel as if they don't measure up. But Delmarva Public Radio Essayist George Merrill writes its important to know how your strengths fit in with those around you.

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Sunfest kicked off this week with an appearance by Tina Forever last night.

The country rockers The Cadillac Three will perform today.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the national rock act Daughtry has been sold out for its Saturday concerts.

Meanwhile, in downtown Rehoboth Beach the Dogfish Head brewpub will hold a pair of free concerts with the return of the Philadelphia funk act  Swift Technique.

In Dewey Beach the Bottle & Cork night club hosts a season-closing event on Saturday with the Philadelphia group The Rockets.

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The Republican nominee for Delaware’s lone House seat Scott Walker has accused the state’s Democratic congressional delegation and its governor of being racist.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that he took aim at Delaware’s first African American congressional member Lisa Blunt-Rochester calling her an “Aunt Tom”.

During a long rant he called the state’s senior Senator Tom Carper who is running for reelection a “redneck” and described former Vice President Joe Biden as a “racist loser.”

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ABERDEEN, Md. (AP) - Workers say they endured terrifying moments of wild gunfire as a woman working a temporary job at a drugstore warehouse in Maryland fired on colleagues with a handgun, killing three people before fatally shooting herself.

Authorities said the shooting erupted Thursday morning after the worker got into an argument, sending screaming workers running from the Rite Aid distribution center after it ended.

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Perdue Farms is sending truckloads of food and the Perdue Chicken Food Truck to the Carolinas after the devastation left by Hurricane Florence.

CEO Randy Day said that the loss by thousands of Carolinians many of whom are associated with Perdue has been devastating.

Perdue is expected to provide around a half million pounds of food amounting to 416-thousand meals to the local food banks in the region.

In addition, the company is sending its Perdue food truck to Lumberton, North Carolina to provide much needed meals for the victims and first responders.

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The Sussex County Board of Appeals voted this week to allow Allen Harim to move forward with its deboning operation at its new Millsboro headquarters.

Its decision will now allow both spray irrigation and the hauling of wastewater if the poultry company gets the necessary state permits.

WBOC reports Allen Harim had felt that earlier the board had been too restrictive and said it was working with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to get the necessary permits.

But some local residents say they do not necessarily trust DNREC.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's leading teachers union is battling Gov. Larry Hogan over its apple trademark.

The Maryland State Education Association announced Thursday it's taking the Republican governor to court over it.

Adam Mendelson, a union spokesman, says MSEA believes Hogan's campaign materials "violate the Montgomery County Education Association's registered trademark of an apple in connection with phrases that imply the political endorsement of educators and teachers."

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch has had coronary bypass surgery.

The speaker's office made the announcement Thursday. Busch's office says the speaker underwent bypass surgery at about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The speaker's office says: "He is awake, alert and is expected to make a full recovery." The statement says he will return to work and the campaign trail in the next few weeks.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - One of 18 Delaware inmates charged in a deadly prison riot last year has decided to represent himself after his court-appointed lawyer was forced to withdraw at the last minute because of a conflict of interest.

A judge granted Jarreau Ayers request Thursday but also appointed an attorney to assist him during his trial, which starts with jury selection Oct. 8.

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A 73-year-old man has died of West Nile Virus in New Castle County.

That’s makes him the first such death in six years for the First State.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the number of West Nile Virus cases has been climbing over the last three years with five alone in 2018.

Mosquitos spread the disease with the peak of the mosquito season ending with cooler weather next month.

Health officials say that people should use bug repellent when they go outside, wear clothing that covers the arms and legs and eliminate any standing water.

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Governor Larry Hogan has a 22 point lead over his Democratic challenger Ben Jealous in a new public opinion poll.

The Sarah T. Hughes Field Center at Goucher College  found the Republican leading Jealous 54 percent to 32 percent.

Nine percent of the voters were undecided.

The Baltimore Sun reports that around three-fourths of those surveyed said they were set on a particular candidate.

And Hogan led in every region of the state.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Republican Party chairman in Delaware's most populous county has resigned his post, saying he cannot support the party's U.S. Senate candidate.

Peter Kopf, chairman of the New Castle County Republican Committee, submitted his resignation letter last Thursday, saying he is troubled both by Rob Arlett's candidacy and the current leadership of the state Republican Party.

Arlett, a county councilman who served as Donald Trump's state campaign chair in 2016, defeated former PayPal executive Gene Truono in the GOP Senate primary earlier this month.

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Perdue Farms operations in the Carolinas are returning back to normal after the torrential rains and wind from Hurricane Florence.

Last week the poultry company closed three of its processing plants in advance of the storm and move chickens from low lying areas.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that two of the plants are now up and running again with the third ready to restart as soon as the city begins supplying water at the end of the week.

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Ocean City officials have unveiled their safety plans to deal with upcoming car events – especially the unsanctioned H2O event.

WBOC reports that the event has been relocated to Atlantic City but Police Chief Ross Buzzuro still expects large crowds.

The plans include special event zones with lower speed limits along busy roadways and higher fines.

The plans unveiled at a meeting of a city taskforce also announced that resort will keep special zones for Cruisin’ OC.

Another meeting is scheduled after this year’s events to consider any other improvements.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware health officials say flu cases have been confirmed in the state's three counties and one person has been hospitalized.

The News Journal of Wilmington reported Wednesday that at least one flu case has been confirmed in each county since last week. The state confirmed its first flu case last year in late October. The flu last year killed more than 30 Delawarians, the highest amount since the state started keeping records in 2004.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Twenty of the Richmond region's historic sites are offering visitors free admission this weekend.

The sites include museums, historic homes and other attractions that cover 400 years of history.

Each site will offer complimentary admission to visitors who show a "time travelers passport," which are available to download from each attraction's website.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The National Weather Service has confirmed that the remnants of Hurricane Florence spawned a total of eight tornadoes in Virginia earlier this week.

The weather service's office in Wakefield, Virginia, said Wednesday that meteorologists have confirmed two additional tornadoes hit the area on Monday. That brings the total for that day to eight.

Seven of the tornadoes were spread across the Richmond metro area. Another tornado hit Mecklenburg County, near the North Carolina border, the same day.

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The Brandywine Valley SPCA opened its doors early at its new facility in Georgetown to some refugees from the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.

It’s being done in partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society.

Around a dozen dogs arrived late yesterday afternoon from the Cumberland County Services in Fayetteville North Carolina.

In addition, the animal shelter was expected to take in several cats last night.

And it expected to receive around 100 animals before the day was out.

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Delaware is one of only two states in which poverty rose last year.

And more people live in poverty in the state now than before the Great Recession.  

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Census Bureau says it inched up to 13.6 percent from 12.3 percent.

The other state was West Virginia.

In another 20 states saw the poverty rate decline while in the others it remained the same.

The paper reports that some of increase can be traced to the rising Hispanic population which has jumped by 63 percent to more than 89-thousand.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Chronic-pain patients in Maryland are asking for help in easing restrictions they face in getting drugs to treat their pain because of the crackdown on opioids.

About two dozen people attended a rally in front of the Maryland State House on Tuesday where participants held signs that said: "Don't Punish Pain," and "Make Health Care Again."

Holly Agouridis of Kensington, Maryland, helped organize the rally in Annapolis. She says people who suffer from chronic pain want the law to "let doctors be doctors" and help them.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A gubernatorial candidate in Maryland who vetoed a reporter from being a panelist at his sole debate with Gov. Larry Hogan has reversed his stance, blaming Hogan's campaign.

News outlets report a Tuesday statement by Democratic nominee Ben Jealous' campaign says debate negotiations with Hogan's campaign led Tamela Baker of The Hagerstown Herald-Mail to be excluded. The statement by a Jealous senior adviser, Kevin Harris, says the panel selection process was limited by Hogan's campaign's refusal to attend additional debates.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Police in northern Delaware are investigating the drowning of a kayaker.

Authorities say the kayaker capsized on the Brandywine River near the North Market Street Bridge was carried down the river by the swift current.

A police officer and a paramedic were able to pull the victim, who was unresponsive, from the water and began CPR.

The victim, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A Baltimore Symphony Orchestra oboist has filed a sexual harassment complaint, saying the orchestra failed to protect her from repeated harassment and retaliation.

News outlets report principal oboe player Katherine Needleman says concertmaster Jonathan Carney has engaged in a constant pattern of retaliation since she rejected him for sex in 2005.

According to the complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she reported the "daily hostility" and "physical intimidations and threats" to the orchestra several times.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia House Republicans have filed their own redistricting proposal they say will fix what a court found were unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts.

GOP Del. Rob Bell introduced a remedial map Tuesday that Republicans say alters 30 House districts, including the 11 that the court said must be redrawn.

Democrats previously introduced a plan Republicans who narrowly control the chamber called a partisan power grab. House Democrats issued a statement Tuesday criticizing Bell's plan.

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Independent candidate for Wicomico County Executive Jack Heath has endorsed Republican Governor Larry Hogan in his re-election bid this year.

In addition, Heath gave his blessing to Comptroller Peter Franchot a Democrat who is running for re-election.

He said the two have given a voice in Annapolis to the concerns of the Eastern Shore.

Heath is challenging Republican incumbent Bob Culver.

Heath is currently the president of the Salisbury City Council and has been endorsed by the local Democratic Club.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Democrat Ben Jealous is supporting proposals aimed at making prescription drugs more affordable in Maryland.

Jealous, who is running for governor, announced his support for the measures Monday at a news conference.

He is backing legislation to create a state board to focus on ensuring transparency and accountability in prescription drug pricing. He says companies would be required to provide advance notice before increasing prices and explain why.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers have signed off on a comprehensive, $13 million upgrade of Delaware's voting system, including all new machines, an electronic poll book to speed up voter check-in, and a new election management system.

The co-chairs of the legislature's capital budget committee on Monday endorsed the unanimous recommendation of a bipartisan task force to enter into a contract with Election Systems & Software LLC.

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