Rittenhouse pal takes quotation for offering AR-15-style rifle utilized in Kenosha killings

KENOSHA – In the end, it was like Dominick Black gave 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse some beer, not an AR-15-style rifle that was later used to kill two people during protests in Kenosha.

On Monday, Black, 20, argued that there should be no competition on Monday to contribute to a minor’s crime, a non-criminal offense. He also agreed to pay $ 2,032.50 in fines and costs.

The requests were made through Black’s lawyer. Two charges of handing over a firearm to minors resulting in death have been dropped.

Dominick Black looks at a photo of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger posing with Kyle Rittenhouse and a group of others on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., Tuesday. November 2, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and injuring a third in a protest against police brutality in Kenosha last year.

The brief hearing marked the end of the first part of the Rittenhouse story, which received heavy attention in the national media in 2020. He was portrayed on the one hand as a conservative vigilante outside the state and by supporters as a community-minded volunteer who defended himself while exercising the rights of the second amendment.

A jury clears Rittenhouse, 18, of all people during a two-week trial period in November. Since then, he has given numerous interviews with conservative news agencies and has been a guest speaker at conservative political events.

He and Black became friends after Black started dating Rittenhouse’s older sister. Rittenhouse, two sisters, and their mother lived in Antioch, Illinois, just across the border.

In May 2020, Black purchased a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle from a Ladysmith hardware store while on a trip to North Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse, then 17, was too young at the time to legally buy the gun.

The gun was kept at Black’s stepfather’s home in Kenosha until the friends decided to go downtown to protect a car dealership on the night of August 25, 2020. The store had suffered arson and vandalism in the previous two nights of protests and rioting the shooting of Jacob Blake by the police.

A few months after Rittenhouse was charged, prosecutors beat Black with the two crimes, one for each of the people Rittenhouse fatally shot – Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. Prosecutors accused Black of providing the gun on August 25 when both friends went downtown armed.

The story goes on

Black, who testified for the state at the Rittenhouse Trial, said the gun was locked in his stepfather’s safe until the violence broke out in Kenosha on August 23. Then, Black said, his stepfather took her to the basement where Rittenhouse picked her up, and Black didn’t try to stop him from taking it downtown.

From day one, Rittenhouse’s attorneys had argued that one of the charges against him – possession of a firearm as a minor – should be dismissed based on their reading of what they called an exception in state law. Black’s attorney later made the same argument.

Just before the Rittenhouse case went to the jury, Judge Bruce Schroeder agreed with the defense that the law was too confusing and dismissed the property charges.

At the brief hearing on Monday, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said, while his office still disagrees with that interpretation, he knows that is Schroeder’s view and may dismiss Black’s case outright.

This, and the fact that Rittenhouse was also acquitted of the other charges, made it, Binger said, appropriate to investigate the case instead of going to the prosecution. Binger did not respond to questions from a reporter after the hearing.

Black’s Waukesha attorney, Anthony Cotton, said he had no evidence that federal authorities could bill his client for a straw purchase. He said Black now worked full-time for a fencing contractor and thought Rittenhouse was rightly acquitted.

Up until Monday’s hearing, Cotton said Black had been ordered to stay out of contact with Rittenhouse and didn’t think the two had spoken since immediately after the August 25, 2020 shootings.

Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or bvielmetti@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rittenhouse friend accepts quote for providing an AR-15 rifle

San Diego photographer accused of taking shoppers’ cash and never offering photographs

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Several women accuse a San Diego photographer of failing to provide promised services despite receiving initial payments.

Lisa is an East County mother of three searching for new photos of her family. She stumbled upon a Facebook post from Lexie Cruz promoting her photography business.

“I hadn’t had pictures of my kids in several years, so I thought it would be a good idea to give my business to someone in the area and young and emerging people,” said Lisa, who refused to use her last name.

The bail was only $ 40, but she said after paying, Cruz’s communication became infrequent. “I asked her to confirm the time and place to make sure we were going to the right park at the right time,” Lisa said. “It took her a week to finally reply and she replied less than 24 hours in advance.”

Cruz never showed up on the day of the photo shoot. “We waited almost an hour,” said Lisa.

Another mom from San Diego, Jennifer, said she booked Cruz for a pregnancy photo shoot last summer. After spending hours getting ready, she said Cruz told her at the last minute that she had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. Cruz tried to reschedule the appointment later that night – something Jennifer couldn’t do.

“I’m not the one who canceled her, she canceled me,” said Jennifer, who also refused to use her last name. “I asked to get my deposit back … and it kind of got dark.”

She assumed she’d lost her $ 20 – not a huge sum – and let go of it. It was only after hearing more stories about Cruz from other mothers that Jennifer decided to take action.

“Back then, in December, I started filing a police report just to do my part,” said Jennifer.

Christine also hired Cruz for a photo shoot as a Mother’s Day present. She paid $ 45 on her bail. Christine, who only wanted to share her first name, said Cruz claimed she mixed up the dates. “I sent her a message at 8 a.m. and said … are we good for tomorrow? We meet in Balboa Park. Is that okay with you? And she didn’t write to me until midnight that she couldn’t, “said Christine.

When Christine said she was going to report her to the San Diego Police Department, Cruz eventually gave her money back.

An online Facebook group where people share their stories has nearly 300 people.

One bride in the group named Meagan told Team 10 that she signed a contract with Cruz for their wedding in North Carolina in August. Meagan said she paid $ 1,000 through a banking app and Cruz was due to be shooting engagement photos in North Carolina on May 29. After hearing nothing from her for 11 days and receiving no confirmation that Cruz had ever bought a plane ticket to North Carolina, she asked for her money back. Cruz said their deposits are non-refundable.

Meagan said she had to hire another photographer and didn’t get any money back.

Cruz sent Team 10 a video with her explanation. In the 14-minute video, she said, “Every story has two sides.”

Cruz claimed that people were spreading false information about her.

“I have families that I’ve worked with. I did photo shoots, ”said Cruz. “Yes, there have been cancellations, no deposit was refunded and I take responsibility for what I did. But I also can’t say that I’ve done a lot of things that people say I am. “

Cruz told Team 10 they had a lawyer but wouldn’t give a name. Cruz doesn’t name specific customers in her video, but she said she wanted to be transparent.

“The last thing I want to do is tell mothers and brides that I’m stealing their money and running,” said Cruz.

Cruz wouldn’t do a one-on-one interview with Team 10. She was not charged with any crimes by the San Diego Police Department. A San Diego police spokesman confirmed that the “case is still active and is being investigated by detectives.”

The Better Business Bureau recommends anyone hiring a photographer for references, having a contract with all the details, and paying by credit card if possible. The BBB also does not recommend paying the entire fee in advance.

Team 10 women interviewed said they had learned a valuable lesson working with Cruz.

“Notice some of the red flags because she originally sent me a link to every cash app available,” Lisa said.

“Be sure to do your due diligence to review someone’s business,” added Jennifer. “Everyone wants a lot, but sometimes you get what you pay for.”

Fuel stations, liquor shops allowed to snap up profit cash with out offering intensive wholesome meals choices

(InvestigateTV/Gray News) – Driving through almost any town in rural America, gas stations have peculiar selections.

Of course, there’s the usual road trip fare: soda, chips and candy. Maybe a section of T-shirts with funny slogans or essentials for your car such as containers of oil and antifreeze.

But there’s often also the out-of-place package of ham in the beer cooler. A random few frozen meals tucked in near the bags of ice. Or an odd bunch of bananas in a basket at the checkout.

The reason in many cases: Stores are working to meet the minimum requirements to accept food stamps – a government program meant to help America’s poorest buy healthy food. It’s a program that can also mean big money for small stores.

By law, stores in the federal program are supposed to regularly stock multiple different types of food that fall into each of the following categories: Fruit/vegetables, dairy, meat/seafood and bread/cereal.

“Not all stores meet the low standards to be in the program. So, there’s two problems. One: standards are too low. And the second problem is there’s no compliance to make sure that those standards are met. But SNAP is vitally important,” said Chicago-based researcher and consultant Mari Gallagher.

On the government’s benefits website, the stated mission of the food stamp or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is “to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency.”

The healthy options are what people from food bank operators to food access advocates say are lacking, particularly in rural stores.

Many stores that accept food stamps that InvestigateTV visited had prominent shelves of chips, candy and other snack foods, as well as large coolers of beer and other alcoholic beverages. Fresh and/or healthy food was sparse. Federal regulations require stores to stock some dairy, bread/cereal, fruit/vegetables, and meat/seafood, but critics say the standards are too low.(InvestigateTV)

Seven years ago, lawmakers tried to expand the access to food for Americans on benefits by requiring stores to stock a wider variety of healthy food to be allowed to accept benefit money.

But InvestigateTV discovered that the eligibility requirements published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, don’t meet the current legal requirement.

That’s because a few years after passing that law, Congress effectively reversed its own law by pulling funding on the new requirement. So, while the law requires more, stores aren’t required to follow the mandate.

Benefits are big business

While the intention of the program is to help families put food on their table – and make sure their options are nutritious – it’s not always happening.

There are currently around 245,000 stores that accept food stamps across the United States. Many are typical grocery stores with a meat counter, produce department and aisles of refrigerated, frozen and shelf-stable foods. Most benefit dollars are used at such stores, according to the USDA.

But there are thousands of what Gallagher refers to as fringe stores that also take food stamps. Those stores, she explains, don’t offer foods that could regularly support a healthy diet.

“Three reasons: Money, money, money,” Gallagher said.

Gas stations, minimarts, bait shops and stores with huge shelves of liquor can cash in on the benefits program, without providing many healthy options for customers.

While people who use food stamps cannot use the benefits to buy liquor, cigarettes or household supplies, they can buy nearly any food or non-alcoholic drink product including chips, candy bars and slushies.

In some towns, gas stations and minimarts are the only game in town. The National Association of Convenience Stores says nearly half of those stores are in rural areas, and more than 80% of rural Americans live within 10 minutes of a convenience store.

“Convenience stores are important because rural areas don’t always have access to as many goods and services as other places,” said NACS general counsel Doug Kantor, who agrees more fresh food options should be required at stores.

Critics say currently the small stores often don’t offer much for poor residents, some of whom also lack access to transportation to get to a town with a full grocery store. With a limited selection, some customers may only have a few healthy options and walls of sugar or sodium-packed choices.

“There are a lot of people who are missing meals because they cannot afford them, or they’re missing quality meals. They’re going to the minimart gas station and getting something that’s there because they’re really hungry,” Gallagher said.

Accepting SNAP is lucrative for stores. From a store’s perspective, accepting benefits is the same as taking a debit card or cash.

“Retailers love to be in the SNAP program, and why shouldn’t they? There’s a lot of money in the program,” Gallagher said.

In the last fiscal year, convenience stores accepted $3.8 billion in benefits.

Undercover findings

In rural Louisiana, small stores on the side of the road sell trinkets, beer, and even life-like baby dolls.

InvestigateTV journalists drove to multiple towns to visit a dozen stores that have applied for and been allowed to accept food stamps. The goal of the undercover reporting: See what residents can buy at their local convenience stores. In some towns, those stores are the only places to buy food.

The findings: Many specialized in junk food and booze – with little to no fresh fruits or vegetables, limited if any meat in the coolers or freezers, and only small containers of often pricey milk.

In one store, the only sign of fresh fruits or vegetables was a shelf with five green bell peppers and one moldy lemon.

In rural Louisiana, small stores that accept SNAP benefits sell items including life-like baby dolls, karaoke machines. The dozen stores InvestigateTV visited contained mostly sugary and salty snack foods as well as large beverage selections. Most had canned fruits, vegetables and meats to fulfill SNAP requirements. Very few had any fresh produce or raw meat intended to cook at home. One store had a few bell peppers and a moldy lemon; another had expired eggs. Rural convenience store owners say it can be hard to stock and keep perishable foods with limited truck deliveries.(InvestigateTV)

Gallagher, the Chicago-based researcher, has spent years working on food research and is credited with popularizing the term “food desert.” In her work, she has done a lot of reconnaissance herself.

“I saw a laundromat one time that was in the SNAP program. They had this little kind of dumpy laundromat and then a little table with, it was just a little like a card table, with some stuff that they sold and accepted SNAP,” she said. “I saw one convenience store that had little gambling machines in there. People were in there smoking. They had no, really no real food.”

To accept food stamps, a store fills out a nine-page form, part of which asks stores to check “yes” or “no” on whether they have the required minimum stock of staple foods.

The current requirement for most stores, according to the USDA’s website, is that each store have three packages of three varieties of food in four categories: Fruits/vegetables, meat/seafood, dairy, and bread/cereals.

For example, to meet the fruit/vegetable category, a store might have three cans of green beans, three bananas and three cartons of orange juice.

To accept food stamps (SNAP benefits), a store must stock at least three units of three types...To accept food stamps (SNAP benefits), a store must stock at least three units of three types of food in each of the four major categories. Shown are examples of food that would qualify a store to participate in the program. Congress amended the law seven years ago to require seven types of food in each category; however, that law is on hold while the USDA finalizes its rules.(Illustration: Jon Turnipseed, InvestigateTV)

Canned tomato soup is a qualifying vegetable. So is a bag of frozen tater tots. Beef jerky is a meat. Jarred alfredo sauce can be counted as milk and a qualifying dairy product.

In addition to the requirements being low and some would say strange, inspections for SNAP compliance are infrequent. According to a USDA spokesperson, the agency “in general” visits stores when they initially apply for the program. It then “may” visit again when they apply for reauthorization every five years.

“USDA colleagues that we work with are very talented and dedicated. Congress actually has to allocate money for there to be money for compliance,” Gallagher said.

Current rules fail to meet 2007 Farm Bill requirements

A law currently on the books strengthens the requirements for stores. It forces them to have more healthy food on the shelves at any time.

But that law is also essentially shelved.

In 2014, Congress passed a new farm bill, a 357-page law that encompasses issues from conservation to subsidies to food stamps.

One of the changes: Instead of requiring three varieties of food in those big categories, stores would now be required to have seven types of food. For example, instead of three types of dairy products such as milk, cheese and sour cream, shops would need to have seven.

“We supported it, and it was a nice instance of bipartisan agreement in Washington that this was an achievable improvement in terms of pushing stores to offer more,” said Kantor, from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

The USDA amended its benefit rules to reflect the change.

But, NACS and a group of lawmakers said the new rule ended up being written in a way that was too limiting for rural stores.

The 2014 Farm Bill included a change to SNAP requirements for stores to participate in the...The 2014 Farm Bill included a change to SNAP requirements for stores to participate in the program. Instead of requiring three “varieties” of food in each category such as fruit/vegetables, the law now required seven varieties. The USDA wrote a new rule to reflect the changes; however, there was significant criticism. In 2017, Congress stopped enforcement of the change until the USDA addressed and rewrote the definition of variety. A 2019 rule to fix the concern has not been finalized.(InvestigateTV)

The bar, according to those in the industry and some lawmakers, was too high.

“Unfortunately when the Department of Agriculture first wrote the rules to implement this, they wrote them in a way that nobody understood or thought made sense,” Kantor said.

In 2016, more than 150 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter asking the rule be reconsidered.

Senators, including the current chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), also wrote a letter to the secretary of agriculture.

It stated, in part, “The cost and burden of complying with the proposed rule could be too high for these retailers to continue participating in SNAP. This would result in the exact opposite of what is intended- it would reduce access to healthy food for SNAP participants.”

The hang-up is in the word “variety.” Currently, only one type of product can be a “variety” – so roast beef and a steak only count for one variety of meat/seafood: beef. Orange juice and fresh oranges are one variety of fruit/vegetable.

Stores say it’s too hard to stock that much variety in a small, rural store where deliveries are few and far between. In particular, the meat and dairy categories would run out of options very quickly if only one type of beef, chicken, etc. counted toward the total as the original rule suggested.

Part of the NACS argument stated on its website: “On average, convenience stores get food deliveries 1-2 times a week, which can make stocking certain foods, particularly perishable foods, difficult. Convenience stores have limited space and storage. The average convenience store is approximately 3,000 square feet—almost 15 times smaller than the average supermarket.”

So in 2017, Congress essentially pulled back its own mandate in an omnibus appropriations bill. It said the rule established by the still-in-effect law would not be funded until some definitions are hammered out. As of this date, it still has not happened.

Many rural stores carry only canned or otherwise shelf-stable produce. Some stock frozen...Many rural stores carry only canned or otherwise shelf-stable produce. Some stock frozen varieties. These all meet SNAP requirements for stores; however, many food access experts say there should be more fresh choices to support a healthy diet. Some stores, such as Dollar General, have plans to expand fresh selections.(InvestigateTV)

Now, in 2021, while the law still technically says stores should have seven different kinds of fruits and vegetables, that’s not the requirement in practice.

“The law that Congress wrote is achievable, and frankly we think they were clear. As I said, the Department of Agriculture, I think, made it more complicated than it should have been in a way that folks would not have been able to implement,” Kantor said. “We hope that they’ll finish the job of simplifying that soon so that everybody can then comply with the new law and offer more.”

The USDA answered questions through email, but the agency declined to go on camera for an interview.

InvestigateTV specifically asked the USDA why it has not finalized the rule that would bring the program into step with the law.

A spokesperson responded through email: “USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) received significant comments in response to the proposed rule. FNS is currently determining the appropriate next steps to balance the improved retailer stocking requirements with the costs and operational realities of such changes.”

Food bank replaces grocery store

The last grocery store in Pine Hill, Alabama, closed some 30 years ago, according to the recollection of former residents.

All that’s left now is a dollar store and two gas stations.

“Even when I was small coming up, it wasn’t a whole lot here. But we had three grocery stores, and now there’s no grocery store at all,” said Edith Ruffin, who grew up in Pine Hill and now lives in Selma.

The twisted irony: Ruffin now runs the town’s food bank out of one of the old grocery store buildings.

A few times a week, Ruffin loads up her car and drives the 60 miles between her home in Selma and her hometown to run the food bank.

The Pine Hill Mission food bank co-founded by Edith Ruffin serves over 17 nearby counties. The...The Pine Hill Mission food bank co-founded by Edith Ruffin serves over 17 nearby counties. The food bank operates out of an old grocery store building. With limited options for healthy food, Ruffin said she is one of the only places people can get fresh produce and other perishable items.(Owen Hornstein, InvestigateTV)

“Dollar General is just canned goods and, you know, snack stuff. They might have canned vegetables, but there’s no fresh stuff there,” Ruffin said. “Here at the food bank, we are able to give them potatoes and tomatoes. We’ve been blessed with a three-door cooler now so I can add dairy stuff.”

An InvestigateTV videographer went into the three stores that accept food stamps in Pine Hill. There were options for canned and frozen vegetables, fruit, and meat – but as Ruffin said, fresh food was virtually non-existent.

“So, it’s just the food bank itself going on right here … just the food bank. I know a lot of them come here and they are calling me later when we have a drive-by giveaway, and they say, ‘Thank you so much, you know, because I don’t know what we would do if the food bank wasn’t there.’”

Dollar General said it offers convenient, affordable access to components to make nutritious meals such as frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. A corporate news release states the company has fresh produce in more than 1,300 of its stores, which would account for about 7% of its stores, though it has published plans to expand. The closest large grocery stores to Pine Hill are a Piggly Wiggly, 25 minutes away in Camden, and a Walmart, 15 minutes away in the next county.

“You look at people with low income, how can you pay somebody for taking you down there? You don’t have the money for it, or if you squeeze it … you get there and pay for the gas for somebody to take you, there is a dent in your money to buy food,” Ruffin said.

Gallagher deployed her special missing meals deficit model in Wilcox County, where Pine Hill is located, at the request of InvestigateTV to get a clearer picture of the hunger in the county.

The goal: Factor in all kinds of things on a local level from seasonal employment and government benefits to school lunches and food pantries to figure out how many people are missing meals each day, week and year.

Her findings: People who live in Wilcox County miss an estimated 686,000 meals a year, which is equal to almost 1 million pounds of food. Said another way, the average family or household misses an average of 3.5 meals a week.

The Pine Hill area is one of the more stretched parts of the county. The around 1,100 residents there miss more than 67,000 meals each year.

If everyone in the county shared the missing meals at the same time, no one in the county would eat a meal for three weeks. (Full reports available at the end of the story).

This map shows how many meals are missed each year in various block groups of Wilcox County,...This map shows how many meals are missed each year in various block groups of Wilcox County, Alabama. Pine Hill is in one of the more stressed areas of the county, according to analysis and mapping. Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group analyzed Wilcox County’s local data as well as that of Ashtabula County, Ohio at the request of InvestigateTV.(Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group)

Solving hunger issues by looking at access, education

Wilcox County has been ranked the worst county in Alabama to live in. Nearly ten years ago, Census data ranked it the poorest county in America by household income.

It has a storied and complicated history, much of it tied to slavery. It is a place where descendants of slaves now live, home to people who marched from Selma to Montgomery.

And for many, it’s a home they won’t abandon. But to remain, they need help.

Tamika Dial works as the coordinator for the Wilcox County Extension Office. For her, helping rural Alabama serves a personal purpose, but she can’t do it alone.

“It’s a lot to live in rural Alabama. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s a lot of things that if somebody would really take the time to hear what we are saying they can see that we need help here,” she said.

Some of the biggest obstacles in the county, Dial said, come down to accessing resources and transportation to get to those resources.

Since many people are locked into their towns with only gas stations or convenience stores, they are stuck with the options that exist there. On top of the lack of choices, Dial said the prices are also worse, meaning food stamps don’t stretch as far.

“When you come to rural Alabama, you don’t have enough competition so you’re going to pay more,” Dial said.

InvestigateTV looked at prices in rural convenience stores, a dollar store and the large grocery store in Camden. Many items were double the price per weight – and often the choices were only to compare fresh foods to canned options.

InvestigateTV compared prices for various grocery items in Wilcox County in June 2021....InvestigateTV compared prices for various grocery items in Wilcox County in June 2021. Convenience and dollar store prices were gathered in person; the Piggly Wiggly prices are from the store’s weekly advertisements. Some produce items were only available in cans, which is noted in the graphic.(Illustration/Research: Cory Johnson, InvestigateTV)

Dial said they have worked with stores in an attempt to get more fresh food options, but the owners haven’t had luck keeping the stock or selling it.

“A lot of our convenience stores started complaining because they were losing money because a lot of folks will not go in and buy the fresh fruits and vegetables. They would be purchasing chips and candy and the gum, and the business owners started taking a loss in trying to do that,” Dial said.

Now, much of the focus of her office is on educating people on making healthier choices. They help teach school children about eating vegetables. They talk to people about choosing granola bars instead of candy and drinking water and 100% juice instead of sugar-filled juice mixes.

The office also works with stores to make healthy choices stand out.

“We try our very best to make sure all those good items are the items that you see when you first walk into the store. Like your water… your 100% juices,” Dial said.

For Dial and her coworkers, helping people make healthy choices even when those choices are slim is a matter of life or death.

“Healthy choices… because it makes you live longer. It cuts out obesity. It lowers the heart rate, it lowers diabetes, cholesterol, and if we can get these children at an early age, we can cut out a lot of health problems that may be in our rural communities,” Dial said.

But like many working in rural areas and putting in so much time and heart, Dial said they need help.

“We are not asking for handouts. We just ask to be recognized and noticed and help us combat all these disparities that we have in rural Alabama,” Dial said.

Solutions

In Wilcox County, Edith Ruffin, who runs the food bank, plans to keep doing what she can on a small level. Her next big goal: Get a fresh food truck that comes into Camden to head the 25 minutes down the road to Pine Hill.

“I do believe that if we could get that vegetable and fruit truck coming through this area we could do more,” Ruffin said.

She once tried to haul fresh fruit and vegetables from the Camden truck, but the pallet fell from her car onto the highway. Ruffin said she nearly wrecked and is too concerned to try it again.

For now, she leans on the generosity of others, too. The food bank in Selma helps donate food, and a local company helps give money to buy more.

Dial, from the extension office, hopes more stores would consider coming to the county.

“I think that we need to be looked at closer and see the problems and see how important it is that we need to…we need more stores in our area,” she said.

The NACS wants the USDA to move the rule changes forward so the requirements are higher for stores, and the organization’s general counsel said he will continue pushing for the finalization.

“We continue to support it and hope that the Department of Agriculture will finish some rules that allow us to implement it,” Kantor said. “There are some impediments to offering more variety, especially in small stores like convenience stores. But we do think they should offer more.”

Meantime, Kantor said many stores are taking it upon themselves to offer more.

“As people have wanted to buy more different kinds of foods, more fresh foods, convenience stores have started to offer more and more of those products,” Kantor said.

Dollar General is one such store. While in Pine Hill, Alabama the store didn’t have much fresh food on hand, the corporate headquarters said it plans to expand fresh food to up to 10,000 of its stores within the next several years.

That move would mean fresh produce in more than half of its stores. With the company’s estimate of 75% of Americans living within five miles of a Dollar General, it could mean a significant increase in availability.

When it comes to the bigger picture, Gallagher hopes to see changes in mindset and policy.

“If you don’t want to do it for the moral imperative you can do it for the economic imperative. I mean, because in the end, you know, we’re going to have a workforce that can’t pay attention to this, a lot of missed work because of diet-related diseases,” Gallagher said.

One potential solution Gallagher proposes is building SNAP compliance into health department inspections, since someone already goes into stores regularly at the county level.

“Let’s put some money together for compliance because we all eat as part of human condition, and food and access to food should be a conscious part of our infrastructure maintenance,” Gallagher said.

Wilcox County, Alabama and Ashtabula County, Ohio Full Reports

Courtesy: Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jersey Shore BlueClaws Again within the Stadium, Offering Aggressive Leisure and Household Enjoyable

June 10, 2021

Jersey Shore BlueClaws are back in the stadium, offering competitive entertainment and family fun

By Tim Morris

Professional minor league baseball is back with the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. BlueClaws fans could see their team in action on May 4th as they opened their 2021 season at home in FirstEnergy Park.

One of the most popular summer pastimes on the Jersey Shore is back. Professional minor league baseball and its fan-friendly environment have returned to FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood after a year of absence due to the pandemic with the Jersey Shore BlueClaws.

The BlueClaws, a minor league subsidiary of the Philadelphia Phillies, officially opened the 2021 season on May 4th at FirstEnergy Park.

“There is a lot of excitement,” said BlueClaws director of communications and radio station Greg Giombarrese. “It’s been a unique year for us with the name change, the promotion and the 614 days between the season opener and our last game.”

As expected, the response from the population and regional companies was positive. When tickets went on sale, the public devoured them. Since the BlueClaws played their first home game in 2001, nearly 8 million people have walked through the turnstiles to watch a game. Catching a BlueClaws game became a must.

Due to the current restrictions on the stadium with 6,588 seats, the team cannot currently occupy all seats. Tickets are sold in pods for two to six people with social distancing.

However, more fans can watch the team play in person via the stadium’s 360-degree hall, where they can watch the games from picnic tables and grass berms outdoors.

Aside from simply getting back to the game, there is excitement about the caliber of baseball that is played in Lakewood. Jersey Shore is playing in the High A East division this year, not the new Low A division.

“The players have come one step closer to the Major Leagues,” said Giombarrese.

The BlueClaws 2021 are managed by Chris Adamson and have a roster of 30 people. Major league health protocols are followed in minor leagues. It is more likely than ever that fans will have the opportunity to see players advancing to the big league.

Due to the pandemic and the resulting loss of revenue, Major League Baseball restructured the minor leagues, with many cities losing their teams due to cost reductions. Giombrasse said the BlueClaws were confident the team would be back in business after baseball returned.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the Phillies all along, and we’ve been great partners,” he said.

Even in the single aloop, the BlueClaws sent more than their fair share of players to the next level.

“108 players went to the show from the bank,” noted Giombarrese.

The team has withdrawn two numbers, number 19 from Cole Hamels and number 29 from Ryan Howard. Hamels was an all-star pitcher for the Phillies and the MVP of the 2008 Philadelphia World Series champions. First baseman Howard was also a multiple All-Star for Philadelphia, as well as Rookie of the Year, the 2006 National League MVP, and was a key member of the 2008 Champion Team.

Another positive aspect of the restructuring is the division in which the BlueClaws are located. You are located with the Hudson Valley Renegades (Yankees), Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets), Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals) and Aberdeen Iron Birds (Orioles). Having the Yankee and Met teams in the division is a plus, explained Giombarrese, because it helps audience numbers as Yankee and Met teams will draw their fans into the stadium. In addition, the close proximity of the teams makes it easier for BlueClaws fans to see their team play on the street.

The BlueClaws play a 120 game board with 60 home appointments.

Jhailyn Ortiz (13) high fives Logan O’Hoppe (6) after his double home run in the fifth inning that helped the Jersey ShoreBlueClaws open the 2021 season with a 6-2 win over Hudson Valley at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. It was the Blue Claws’ first game in 614 days

In addition to baseball, the BlueClaws offer many other activities for fans. In 2018, the club renovated the ballpark and added the Toyota Home Run Pavilion, which includes a nine-hole mini golf course (each hole is named after a former BlueClaw) and boardwalk games and rides for the family. There are also 17 live fireworks nights, including July 4th, and themed nights. Themed evenings include Pride Night (June 4), Girl Scout Family Night (June 11), Father’s Day (June 13), Camp Day (July 6), Military Appreciation Night (July 8), Autism Awareness Night ( August 6)) and Fan Appreciation Night (September 12).

Baseball fans aren’t the only ones happy that baseball is back. This also applies to those who are dependent on work in the stadium. When the BlueClaws are at home, they employ up to 200 people. This is work that wasn’t available a year ago.

The BlueClaws were the Lakewood BlueClaws until the 2021 season. Giombarrese said the team planned to move from Lakewood to Jersey Shore in 2020 to pay tribute to its large fan base.

“[The name change] the next logical step was to take advantage of the support we have from all over the Jersey Shore, ”said Giombarrese.