American Scene: Fla. troopers erred before fatal interstate crash

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FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Highway Patrol lieutenant who ordered the reopening of a fog- and smoke-shrouded interstate highway shortly before a series of crashes killed 11 people was unaware of the agency’s procedures and had no formal training in opening and reopening roads, a state report said Thursday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report concluded troopers made errors but found no criminal violations.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Bruce Simmons expressed concerns about reopening Interstate 75 in north Florida in January but Lt. John Gourley gave the order because he was worried keeping the highway closed also would be dangerous.

At least a dozen cars, pickup trucks and a van, six semi-trailer trucks and a motorhome collided in north Florida near Gainesville. Some vehicles burst into flames, making it difficult to identify the victims.

Smoke from a wildfire mixed with fog blanketed the highway where it cut through Paynes Prairie State Park.

OREGON

Boring meets Dull in international partnership

PORTLAND — Boring: Meet Dull.

That’s what happened when two small towns, one in the U.S. state of Oregon and the other in Scotland, decided to get together and become sister communities.

The Oregonian reports that the idea came from a Scottish tourist, Elizabeth Leighton, who traveled this year through the Oregon town in Clackamas County that was named after homesteader William H. Boring.

The partnership means that the towns can use their collectively descriptive names to promote tourism. Officials in the Oregon town plan to sell T-shirts that say “Boring and Dull.”

Boring has a population of 8,000. Dull has a population of 84 and possibly gets its name from a Gaelic word from centuries ago.

MICHIGAN

Wildfire burns at least 1,500 acres near lake

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