By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS

Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. (AP) – For years, residents in this cash-strapped city watched helplessly as thieves gutted 33 miles (53 kilometers) of streetlight wiring, plunging long stretches of roadway into darkness. The thousands of dollars criminals pocketed at off-the-books salvage yards wreaked millions of dollars in damage.

Now Tulsa is scrambling to make patchwork repairs to its decimated grid, opting for a quick fix to appease frustrated motorists, including 48-year-old resident Bill White, who says broken streetlights could become a liability for the city and a hazard for drivers, not to mention an eyesore.

“If I’m visiting the city from the airport, what’s going to be my first impression?” White said. “Am I still in the country?”

Copper thieves have pillaged lighting grids in cities large and small across the nation, causing municipal budgets to skyrocket. Law enforcement agencies estimated that the copper theft racket was costing cities $1 billion a year. At peak demand, copper went for around $4 per pound; it fetches about half that now. Scrap aluminum hovers around 40 cents.

The lighting dilemma in Tulsa also tells the larger story of the country’s deteriorating infrastructure due to decades of neglect, deferred maintenance and unwillingness by officials to make tough funding decisions. Many bridges and overpasses are obsolete; roads are pocked with potholes; sewer systems are time bombs. Some federal officials estimated it would take about $1 trillion to fix the mess.

“Tulsa has the problem that almost every city in the country has: Their maintenance costs are outside what they can afford, so they’re making piecemeal repairs just because of the cash flow,” said Sean Crotty, an assistant professor of geography at Texas Christian University.

Cities that can afford more expensive solutions have overhauled their lighting grids with solar or LED technology. Last year, Detroit completed a $185 million conversion of its archaic streetlight system to LED – light-emitting diode – after emerging from bankruptcy. The cost of an LED overhaul, though, could get “staggeringly expensive,” explained Crotty, referencing San Diego as one example.

“Just the pole itself on a highway is a shocking, expensive thing: $60,000 per post,” said Crotty, who’s also a faculty member in the university’s Center for Urban Studies.

In an effort to switch most of the lights back on by December, the city is using cheaper, less-durable aluminum wiring instead of more reliable copper and gambling that theft-deterrent doors and stickers affixed to light poles exclaiming in English and Spanish, “We Use Aluminum Wire” will be enough to thwart would-be criminals.

But what the state’s second-largest city is looking to save for the sake of convenience and immediacy could end up throwing its streetlight grid into chaos again, city officials and urban designers say.

“Even with aluminum, really, as long as these materials remain valuable, there’s no magic bullet,” said Terry Ball, the director of Tulsa’s streets and storm water department, which began tracking the thefts in 2014. “There’s no one approach you can take.”

There’s also no guarantee how long aluminum wiring will hold up, especially given Oklahoma’s wild weather swings. Many of the light poles themselves date to the 1960s and 1970s. One industry group says copper is still the better option, even if it costs more.

“Copper is the standard conductor metal against which all other conductor materials are measured,” said Thomas Passek, the president of the Copper Development Association Inc. “Although first-time cost may favor other materials, municipalities should consider the total cost of ownership.”

But in these dire budget times, Tulsa’s mayor, G.T. Bynum, said his city of about 400,000 people has little choice but to go with “the least expensive, still expensive option” to the tune of around $3 million.

Ilyas Bhatti, an associate professor of design and construction management at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, said cities such as Tulsa run the risk of having “the same problems, trading one precious metal for another metal.”

“To some, (criminals) may think (aluminum) is silver” when they cut the line,” Bhatti said.

In Tulsa, which allocates only $68,000 a year for streetlight repairs, the cost to outfit its 6,000 or so lights with LED would be somewhere between $12 million and $15 million, said Tracy Nyholm, the traffic operations planning manager.

Ball, the streets and storm water department director, said the only way the city will be able to afford better technology is through a sales tax, bond package or grant. And even then, those options could be at least five or more years off, he said.

Until then, Tulsa is gambling on a quick fix and hoping cheaper options come along sooner than later.

“The thing when you get into electronics, you buy it one day and the next day, it’s obsolete,” Ball said. “Two years from now, there may be a whole new light bulb we don’t even know about.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By JENNIFER KAY

Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) – With the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, national policy on climate change will emerge from U.S. cities working to reduce emissions and become more resilient to rising sea levels, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at the annual U.S. Conferences of Mayors meeting in Miami Beach.

The conference supported the Paris agreement, and according to preliminary results released Saturday morning from an ongoing nationwide survey, the vast majority of U.S. mayors want to work together and with the private sector to respond to climate change.

“There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it. There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it,” said Landrieu, who will replace Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend.

“If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts,” he said.

A May survey of local sustainability efforts, conducted by the conference and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, initially only included 80 mayors who hold leadership positions within the conference. It was extended to all conference members and the mayors of about 1,400 cities with populations of 30,000 or more after President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the Paris agreement.

Cities still have months to respond to the questionnaire on low-carbon transportation options, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, but the data received so far from 66 cities in 30 states showed 90 percent were interested in forming partnerships with other local governments to create climate plans, implement transportation programs or procure equipment such as electric vehicles.

The responses have come from cities ranging in size from 21,000 people in Pleasantville, New Jersey, to New York City’s 8.5 million. According to the survey, the majority of those cities want to buy or already bought green vehicles, and most also have energy efficiency policies for new and existing municipal buildings.

“I think most mayors in America don’t think we have to wait for president,” whose beliefs on climate change are disconnected from science, Landrieu said.

Former President Bill Clinton jabbed at Trump for retreating from the Paris agreement on Saturday at the mayors’ event.

“You can get out any minute, but water is going to keep rising,” he said. “Politics has almost no influence on science.”

Clinton said mayors should step up to the plate and be ready to show results. “You got to seal and deliver. Every one of you has different budgetary constraints, every one of you has different options,” he said. “You have to find a way to do it.”

Traditional energy sources still dominate, but the survey noted that more cities could use renewable electricity if their states passed legislation. Forty-seven cities spent nearly $1.2 billion annually on electricity for city operations, and “with this level of purchasing power, coordinated efforts or shifts in demand from U.S. cities will be of interest to energy utilities and provides,” the survey said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that U.S. cities too often find themselves alone when trying to address the local effects of climate change.

De Blasio joined Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine on a tour of a South Beach neighborhood where the city raised streets and installed pumps to send up to 120,000 gallons of water a minute flowing back into Biscayne Bay. The project – aimed at keeping the island city dry amid rising seas – has received national attention, but Levine noted that not all communities can afford to fight climate change without state or federal funding.

“But if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it, right?” de Blasio said. “Cities and states around the country are now doing the kinds of things the national government should do. It’s just that we can’t depend on our national government anymore.”

_____

Associated Press writer Adriana Gomez Licon contributed to this report from Miami Beach, Florida.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The Latest on wildfires in Utah and Southern California (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

Officials say that better weather conditions have limited the growth of a wildfire in Utah that has prompted the evacuation of 1,500 people from hundreds of homes and cabins.

In a statement, Incident Commander Tim Roide says Sunday was “a good day for firefighters, who were able to have success securing areas of particular concern, including the many structures affected by the Brian Head Fire.”

Officials say the fire currently covers nearly 67 square miles (174 square kilometers) and is 10 percent contained.

Officials say firefighters on Sunday put in barriers against the flames and air tankers dropped fire retardant in anticipation of winds coming in from the southwest on Monday.

___

5:33 p.m.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters battled a Utah wildfire that grew Sunday morning to nearly 67 square miles (174 square kilometers) and has prompted the evacuation of 1,500 people from hundreds of homes and cabins. In Southern California, a wildfire broke out after a car crashed on a freeway and prompted evacuations of some nearby homes in the city of Santa Clarita.

KUTV reported that a few Utah families were allowed back to their homes near the resort town of Brian Head to survey damage and retrieve essential items, but most were left waiting and wondering when they would be able to come home. The fire has also burned in the Dixie National Forest.

Evacuation orders were also issued for nearby mountain communities generally known for weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents.

___

4:03 p.m.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters battled a Utah wildfire that grew Sunday morning to nearly 67 square miles (174 square kilometers) and has prompted the evacuation of 1,500 people from hundreds of homes and cabins. In Southern California, a wildfire broke out after a car crashed on a freeway.

KUTV reported that a few families were allowed back to their homes near the resort town of Brian Head to survey damage and retrieve essential items, but most were left waiting and wondering when they would be able to come home. The fire has also burned in the Dixie National Forest.

Evacuation orders were also issued for nearby mountain communities that are generally known for its weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents.

___

12:03 p.m.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters in southern Utah are banking on cooler weather conditions Sunday as they continue to tackle the country’s largest wildfire.

The fire near the resort town of Brian Head has now grown to 66.9 square miles (173.2 square kilometers) as of Sunday morning.

It remains at 8 percent contained but has destroyed at least 13 homes and eight outbuildings, fire officials said.

More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from several hundred homes and cabins. Evacuation orders were given in nearby alpine communities that are generally known for second homes as a weekend getaway for Las Vegas residents.

The blaze was started June 17 by someone using a torch to burn weeds, with hot and windy weather conditions intensifying the flames over the past week.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By RYAN J. FOLEY

Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday overturned the conviction of a lottery employee implicated in a nationwide cheating scandal, saying his trial over a rigged $16.5 million jackpot was tainted by unjustified delays in the investigation.

The ruling is a victory for former Multi-State Lottery Association security director Eddie Tipton, whose lawyers argued that Iowa’s long-running inquiry into the 2010 jackpot allowed the statute of limitations to expire. But it might have little practical impact.

Prosecutors had agreed this month to vacate the conviction under a plea agreement, regardless of how the court would rule. The deal requires Tipton to plead guilty in Iowa to ongoing criminal conduct for his efforts to rig other jackpots in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wisconsin. Prosecutors are expected to seek a 25-year prison term for Tipton, 56, who also pleaded guilty in Wisconsin this month to rigging a $2 million 2007 jackpot under the deal.

Tipton’s attorney, Dean Stowers, said the defense will review whether to honor the plea deal following Friday’s decision.

“We are pleased that the court agreed that the State was not diligent and did not timely charge Eddie,” he said. “We will be evaluating the potential impact of this decision on the pending charges.”

Investigators say Tipton installed code on lottery computers that allowed him to predict the winning numbers on three days of the year. They say he worked with his brother Tommy Tipton, businessman Robert Rhodes and other associates to purchase and claim winning tickets from 2005 to 2011.

Friday’s ruling was limited to the first and largest jackpot linked to Tipton, a $16.5 million Hot Lotto drawing in December 2010. Lawyers representing a Belize-based trust came forward a year later with the winning ticket hours before the deadline, but they wouldn’t say who bought it. The Iowa Lottery refused to pay and requested a criminal investigation.

After the case hit a dead-end, investigators in 2014 released surveillance video of a hooded man purchasing the winning ticket at a Des Moines gas station in 2010. Colleagues told investigators they believed the man was Tipton, who was charged and fired by the Urbandale-based association.

Jurors convicted Tipton in 2015 of fraudulently trying to redeem the ticket and tampering with lottery equipment. The court ruled Friday that the three-year statute of limitations was expired on the tampering charge, dismissing it. The court said the verdict on the redeeming charge was tainted because the statute of limitations expired on two of three legal theories presented to jurors. The court ordered a retrial on that count, but that won’t happen if the plea deal comes together.

Prosecutors theorized at trial that Tipton disabled security cameras in the drawing room and installed a self-deleting software program that rigged the outcome. Afterward, they learned that theory may have been wrong as they linked other jackpots to Tipton and his friends. An analysis of a Wisconsin computer uncovered code that allowed Tipton to predict winning numbers on May 27, November 23 and Dec. 29.

Justice Brent Appel faulted investigators for taking too long to try to interview key witnesses in Canada and Texas, saying they didn’t pursue the case “with due diligence.”

“It took over three years for the trail to run cold when that point could have been reached by completing two simple tasks,” he wrote.

Division of Criminal Investigation agent Matt Anderson testified that his efforts were delayed by a busy workload, which included dozens of voter fraud cases assigned to him in the 2012 election.

After buying the ticket, Tipton passed it to Rhodes, of Sugar Land, Texas. Rhodes and Houston lawyer Robert Sonfield then passed the ticket to Phillip Johnston in Canada, who called the lottery in 2011 claiming he was the owner. Johnston later said he was representing a person who wanted to claim the ticket anonymously through the trust.

It took investigators until 2013 to interview Johnston, who identified Rhodes and Sonfield as being involved. Several more months passed before investigators traveled to try to find those two, who didn’t cooperate. Rhodes has since pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with Tipton’s prosecution. Sonfield hasn’t been charged.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

BOSTON (AP) – In a story June 24 about the auction of items connected to famous gangsters, The Associated Press, relying on information from the auction house, erroneously attributed the music and lyrics of a piece titled “Humoresque.” While Al Capone did write down the music and lyrics, the piece was originally composed by Antonin Dvorak and written by Howard Johnson.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Al Capone pocket watch, song fetch over $100K at auction

Artifacts connected to some of the nation’s most notorious gangsters have sold for more than $100,000

By CRYSTAL HILL

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) – Artifacts connected to some of the nation’s most notorious gangsters sold for more than $100,000 at auction Saturday.

A diamond pocket watch produced in Chicago in the 1920s and a musical composition that belonged to Al Capone were among the items that sold at the “Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen” auction. The watch fetched the most – $84,375 – according to Boston-based RR Auction.

The winning bidder of the watch was not identified. The buyer is a collector who has an eye for interesting American artifacts, said RR Auction Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston. He was among about 30 internet, telephone and in-person bidders.

A musical piece entitled “Humoresque” sold for $18,750. Capone wrote down the music and lyrics from the piece – originally composed by Antonin Dvorak and written by Howard Johnson – while he was in Alcatraz in the 1930s. It contains the lines: “You thrill and fill this heart of mine, with gladness like a soothing symphony, over the air, you gently float, and in my soul, you strike a note.”

Livingston told The Associated Press he wasn’t surprised that the piece sold because of the way Capone “resonates in the American imagination.”

“The musical artifact gives insight into who this man was,” Livingston said. “It humanizes him.”

Several items from infamous couple Bonnie and Clyde were big hits at the auction. An autographed “So Long” letter written by Bonnie Parker and signed by Clyde Barrow just before their deaths sold for $16,250. A pair of Texas arrest warrants fetched $8,125.

Parker’s silver-plated, three-headed snake ring fetched $25,000. The ring was not made by Barrow – a skilled amateur craftsman who engaged in jewelry making, woodworking and leathercraft behind bars – as originally believed, according to RR Auction’s website.

Clyde Barrow’s nephew, Buddy Barrow, and Bonnie Parker’s niece, Rhea Leen Linder, were in attendance.

“I asked Buddy Barrow what his uncle would be thinking about the auction, he felt that Clyde would have said ‘make as much money as you can,'” Livingston said.

A letter written by John Gotti, the reputed head of the Gambino crime family in New York, didn’t sell. The 1998 letter to the daughter of a mob associate urges the recipient to tell her father “to keep the martinis cold.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A hearing is scheduled to resume Monday on whether a one-time candidate for New York governor who publicly insulted former President Barack Obama and his wife should be ousted from the Buffalo school board.

The hearing on a removal petition filed by other school board members began Thursday in Albany.

Carl Paladino has been targeted for removal since he told a Buffalo arts newspaper in December that he wished then-President Barack Obama would die of mad cow disease and Michelle Obama would go live with a gorilla.

But the Artvoice comments are not the basis for the unusual trial-like proceedings. The petition filed by Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold and other board members instead accuses Paladino of disclosing confidential information discussed in closed-door sessions.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and SCOTT SMITH

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown won crucial early approval from federal wildlife officials Monday for his $16 billion proposal to re-engineer California’s north-south water system, advancing his plan to build two giant tunnels to carry Northern California water to the south even though much about the project remains undetermined.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave their green light by finding that the project would not mean extinction for endangered and threatened native species of salmon and other fish. The project, which would tap part of the flow of California’s largest river, the Sacramento, would change the way the San Francisco Bay Area, the farm-rich Central Valley and populous Southern California get their water from what is the West Coast’s largest estuary.

The twin tunnels, both four stories high and 35 miles long, would be California’s most ambitious water project since the 1950s and 1960s. Then, Brown’s father, the late Gov. Pat Brown, helped oversee building of the pumps, dams, and aqueducts that move water from the green north to more arid south. Supporters say the tunnels are needed to modernize and secure water deliveries from the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, now done by aging pumps that pull the rivers and the fish in them off-course.

Brown did not comment Monday, though his resources secretary cheered the ruling.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the massive Los Angeles-area water agency that is one of the project’s biggest proponents, called Monday’s decision a milestone.

“For too long California’s water supplies have been at risk and subject to cutbacks,” Kightlinger said.

Brown has pushed to get regulatory approval and financing squared away for the tunnels before he leaves office next year.

Opponents say they fear water extractions through the tunnels could doom towns and farms in California’s historic Delta and more than a dozen dwindling native species that depend on the waterway.

They accused federal wildlife and fisheries agencies of clearing the project while key details of how it would operate aren’t yet determined, including how much water the tunnels could take from the Sacramento.

Local water districts, spread among the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California, would pay for the project. They have yet to decide which of them would sign on for the tunnels, and how they would pay for them.

“They’re asking people to commit to pay for a project that they won’t know for years in the future how it will be operated and how much water can go through it,” said Bill Jennings of the California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance. “It was breathtaking in its audacity.”

State officials disclosed Monday they had agreed to dedicate 1,800 acres near the pumps as habitat for Delta smelt, a once thriving, now nearly extinct native fish that would be harmed most directly by the tunnels.

With so much yet to be determined about the project, the state would rely on monitoring any problems from digging and running the tunnels, and “adjust operations accordingly,” said Bill Croyle, acting director of the state’s Department of Water Resources, the agency spearheading the project.

Monday’s decision moves Brown’s project ahead to a decision by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees many of the country’s big water projects. David Murillo, the bureau’s regional director, indicated to reporters Monday that decision was months or more away.

Among the issues Murillo said had yet to be resolved: concerns voiced earlier this month from a large group of Northern and Central California water agencies that wouldn’t get water from the tunnels and don’t want any part of the project.

The group of water agencies in the Central Valley Project, the state’s largest water supplier, asked the Bureau of Reclamation earlier this month to delay its own ruling on the project until the water agencies are assured it won’t cost them money or cut their own water supplies, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

The federal bureau also wants to get a better idea before it rules of how much water the tunnels will be allowed to take from the Sacramento River, Murillo said. That ruling is expected from another state water board this fall.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Better weather conditions have limited the growth of a wildfire in Utah that has prompted the evacuation of 1,500 people from hundreds of homes and cabins, officials said Sunday night. In Southern California, a wildfire broke out after a car crashed on a freeway and prompted evacuations of nearby homes in the city of Santa Clarita.

Utah wildfire Incident Commander Tim Roide said in a statement that Sunday was “a good day for firefighters, who were able to have success securing areas of particular concern, including the many structures affected by the Brian Head Fire.”

Firefighters on Sunday put in barriers against the flames and air tankers dropped fire retardant in anticipation of winds coming in from the southwest on Monday, officials said. The blaze, which is being battled by about 1,000 firefighters, covers nearly 67 square miles (174 square kilometers) and is 10 percent contained.

KUTV reported that a few Utah families were allowed back to their homes near the resort town of Brian Head to survey damage and retrieve essential items, but most were left waiting and wondering when they would be able to come home. The fire has also burned in the Dixie National Forest.

Evacuation orders were also issued for nearby mountain communities generally known for weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents.

“This is a catastrophic fire, no two ways about it,” Garfield County Sheriff Jim Perkins said.

The fire in California started Sunday afternoon in Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles, prompting authorities to shut down all lanes of a highway and send crews to fight the blaze that quickly grew to more than 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers), fed by tinder-dry brush and driven by winds in stifling heat. One structure was destroyed but authorities did not say if it was a home.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were helping residents of some homes evacuate “out of an abundance of caution.” The sheriff’s office in a statement did not say how many people had been evacuated.

The fire was 70 percent contained by 7 p.m., official said.

The Utah firefighters could face more challenges on Monday because the National Weather Service warned of critical fire weather conditions with gusty winds, high temperatures and low humidity. There’s also a chance for thunderstorms that could add more sparks.

The Utah blaze was accidentally started June 17 by someone using a torch to burn weeds. It intensified over the past week because hot and windy weather conditions fanned the flames.

Authorities on Monday will send a second team of firefighters to help try to put it out. The National Interagency Coordination Center’s latest report showed it was the largest wildfire in the U.S.

___

This version corrects that Santa Clarita is north, not south, of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By GILLIAN FLACCUS

Associated Press

MADRAS, Ore. (AP) – Just before sunrise, there’s typically nothing atop Round Butte but the whistle of the wind and a panoramic view of Oregon’s second-highest peak glowing pink in the faint light.

But on Aug. 21, local officials expect this lookout point just outside the small town of Madras to be crammed with people from around the world, all hoping for the first glimpse of the moon’s shadow as it crosses Mount Jefferson’s snow fields. Then, a solar eclipse will throw the entire region into complete darkness for two minutes.

The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years will first be visible in Oregon, and Madras is predicted to be among the country’s best viewing spots because of its clear, high-desert skies, flat landscape and stunning mountain views.

Up to 1 million eclipse chasers will descend on Oregon for the celestial event, and officials are bracing for as many as 100,000 of them in and around Madras.

In this vast expanse of ranches and farms, rural, two-lane roads could mean traffic jams of cosmic proportions. Every hotel in Madras is booked, some residents are renting their homes for $3,000 a night, and campers are expected to flood the national forests and grasslands during peak wildfire season.

The state’s emergency coordination center will gear up, and first responders will prepare to respond to any trouble as they would for an earthquake or other natural disaster. Cell towers could be overwhelmed, traffic will be gridlocked, and police and fire stretched to the max managing the crowds.

“Bring extra water, bring food. You need to be prepared to be able to survive on your own for 24 to 48 to 72 hours, just like you would in any sort of emergency,” said Dave Thompson, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “This is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s really worth seeing. But you’ve got to be prepared or you won’t enjoy it.”

When the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, the path of totality – meaning total darkness – from the moon’s shadow will begin on Oregon’s coast, then cross the north-central part of the state from west to east.

But as the hype builds, authorities are increasingly worried that people who planned to watch from the notoriously foggy coast could move east at the last minute if the forecast sours. And Oregonians who live outside the path of totality could decide to drive to one of the prime viewing spots at the spur of the moment, creating havoc on the roads, said Cory Grogan, spokesman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

In addition, many tourists will be camping in hot, tinder-dry conditions, or even sleeping in their cars. First responders have been planning for months for a worst-case scenario: evacuating tens of thousands of people while trying to get fire engines through gridlocked roads. Cellular towers also may be crippled by the volume of people texting, calling and posting photos, making it difficult for fire crews to communicate.

Federal and local officials will stage engines and other resources at key locations, and firefighters from other agencies and private companies will send extra crews. But it’s impossible to plan for everything, and tourists frustrated with traffic may use forest access roads as shortcuts, further raising fire risk, said Kent Koeller, a recreation planner with U.S. Forest Service outside Madras.

“Just driving off-road – having that contact with a hot muffler or a catalytic converter – could start an ignition,” he said. “And in these fine fuels, it could spread very quickly.”

Lysa Vattimo was hired two years ago to coordinate the town’s planning efforts with more than 50 local, state and federal agencies. She spends her days trying to think of every possible consequence of having tens of thousands of people in a town of just 6,500 – and her nights worrying she missed something.

The town and surrounding campsites have rented nearly 700 portable toilets, including some from as far as Idaho, to meet demand. Sanitation trucks will run almost around the clock, transporting trash to 50-yard-long (46-meter-long) dumpsters before it rots in triple-digit temperatures.

Gas stations are filling their underground tanks in advance, and businesses are being told to use cash only, to avoid bringing down the wireless network. Banks are stocking their ATMs, local hospitals have canceled vacations, and pregnant women close to their due dates are being told to leave to avoid getting stuck.

“What we’ve asked our residents to do is get prepared ahead of time. About a week out, fuel up on propane, gas, whatever fuels they need, get their prescriptions, go to the doctor, do what you need to do,” she said. “And then stay home.”

In Madras, hotels were booked years ago, and spots at 25 campgrounds in and around the town are going fast. Farmers are renting out their land for pop-up campgrounds, and thousands of parking spaces for day trippers are getting snapped up.

The Black Bear Diner, one of the town’s most popular restaurants, expects to serve 1,000 people a day during the week leading up to the eclipse. Owner Joe Davis has ordered five weeks of food for one week of business and will have an abbreviated menu of 10 items to speed service.

“The Black Bear Diner has been here in Madras 18 years, and I’m sure this will be by far the busiest week – and probably double the busiest week – that we’ve seen,” he said.

But amid all the hubbub and anxiety, most residents have kept sight of the wonder.

Darlene Hoffman is one of the few here who watched the last total solar eclipse to touch Madras 38 years ago. Hoffman, 80, recalls how the birds stopped singing and the horses prepared to sleep as the sky gradually darkened and a hush fell over the land.

“It was really something to see. It really was,” she said. “That amazed me more than anything.”

___

Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By JULIE CARR SMYTH and GEOFF MULVIHILL

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Governors in several states that opted to expand Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s health care law are wary of the Senate Republican plan to end the added federal funding for it within seven years.

The proposal released Thursday calls for a slower phase-out of the Medicaid expansion than a bill adopted earlier by the House. Yet it still would force those states to figure out what to do about the millions of lower-income Americans who used it to gain health coverage.

The doubts about the latest plan from Washington came from Republicans, Democrats and the nation’s one independent governor.

“I have deep concerns with details in the U.S. Senate’s plan to fix America’s health care system and the resources needed to help our most vulnerable, including those who are dealing with drug addiction, mental illness and chronic health problems and have nowhere else to turn,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, said in a Twitter message.

Kasich was part of a group of Republican and Democratic governors who wrote a letter last week to Senate leaders calling for them to work in a bipartisan way to revamp the nation’s complex health insurance policies.

Another was Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, also a Republican. His decision to expand Medicaid has provided health coverage to more than 210,000 Nevada residents.

“It appears that the proposed bill will dramatically reduce coverage and will negatively impact our future state budgets,” he said in an emailed statement.

Part of the Obama law was an offer to the states: If they would expand Medicaid, a joint federal-state insurance program for low-income people, to able-bodied adults without children at home, the federal government would pick up the entire tab in the initial years. The federal share drops to 90 percent after 2020.

The expansion has provided coverage to 11 million people in the 31 states that accepted it.

The Senate bill calls for phasing out the enhanced federal support for the expansion by 2024. The House calls for doing it by 2020.

In both plans, states could keep coverage for the newly eligible adults, but federal taxpayers would not continue to pay a larger share of the bill. The Senate bill also calls for a tighter cap on federal spending in Medicaid overall than the House bill did. Currently, there is no limit on how much the program will pay for care for those enrolled.

In addition, it calls for extra federal funding to be awarded to states for addiction and mental health treatment, services covered by Medicaid. Both chambers would have to agree on details for the bill to be sent to President Donald Trump.

Trying to keep the expansion without added federal help could blow a hole in state budgets.

In Oregon, lawmakers this week passed a health care tax intended to fix a $1.4 billion, two-year budget deficit attributed largely to Medicaid expansion costs. Those costs are rising there and elsewhere even with the federal government paying for most of the expansion, largely because more people signed up than originally expected.

“We anticipate it will be hundreds of thousands of Oregonians that will be stripped of health care under this proposal in order to get a tax break for wealthy Americans,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

That was a reference to other provisions of the Republican plan that would cut taxes by nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, mostly for corporations and America’s wealthiest families.

In Montana, 20 percent of residents didn’t have medical insurance in 2013. By last year, that was down to 7 percent. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, attributes the higher coverage rates to the Medicaid expansion and said the Senate bill would undo that.

Charlie Baker, the Republican governor in heavily Democratic Massachusetts, and Tom Wolf, a Democratic governor in Pennsylvania, had similar concerns. Governors also said the bill could hurt rural hospitals and senior citizens who have nursing home care covered by Medicaid.

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who surprised her party when she decided to expand Medicaid four years ago, is urging Congress to save the expansion, which has provided coverage to 400,000 Arizonans.

Brewer said cutting Medicaid eventually will cause private insurance premiums to rise because people losing coverage will seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms.

“We’re going to pay for it one way or another; there are no free lunches,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

A spokesman for Arizona’s current governor, Republican Doug Ducey, said the governor was studying the GOP bill.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, said in a statement Thursday that he is still reviewing the Senate plan, but had some worries about how it might affect his vast and sparsely populated state, where health care costs are high.

“I am deeply concerned about the potential effects of a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said.

___

Mulvihill reported from New Jersey. Contributing were AP reporters Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Bobby Caina Calvan in Helena, Montana; Bob Christie in Phoenix; Kristena Hansen in Salem, Oregon; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Alison Noon in Carson City, Nevada; Bob Salsberg in Boston; Sophia Tareen in Springfield, Illinois; and Kristen Wyatt in Denver.

___

This story has been updated to clarify that the expansion was aimed primarily at adults without children at home.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.