The latest local news

Orion and Rockridge honor student battling brain tumor at rivalry game

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ORION, Illinois -- On a Friday afternoon during high school football season, freshman biology at Orion High School went about how'd you expect it to. They were supposed to be reviewing for their first big test, but students were buzzing about the big rivalry game to be played against Rockridge that night.

"If you can't see, you can move your desk to the side," said Heather Stannke to her biology students.

Xander Carlson is the student who has trouble seeing the board unless it has a black background with white writing.

"There's a curve there...then there's a curve all the way around and another curve here," said Xander tracing the three scars on his head, three reminders of what he's endured at his young age.

"I really didn't think it was anything serious. I wasn't too concerned. I've had glasses since I was in 5th grade so I thought it was just some vision change," said Carlson.

In January of 2019, it wasn't his eyes getting worse but something completely different causing his new vision problems.

"We knew that day he had significant vision changes and took him to an eye doctor specialist the next day," said his mom, Beth Carlson.

A trip to the eye doctor turned into a trip to the hospital in Iowa City and a diagnosis they never expected to hear.

"The biopsy showed it was a ganglioglioma which is a low-grade tumor but it as a gene that causes it to be more high risk for cancer and act more like cancer," explained Beth.

Even hearing the words 'brain tumor' or 'cancer' didn't shake Xander's spirit.

"I had to trust all the people caring for me," said Xander. "That's all I really could do."

Wrapped around his optic nerve, his pituitary gland, and touching his brain stem meant they sought treatment at St. Jude in Memphis. Doctors removed 70 percent of the six-centimeter tumor and are treating the remaining two centimeters with radiation. The tumor isn't completely gone, so doctors are watching for signs of regrowth.

"There's no reason to look at like it's a bad thing. You might as well just stay positive," said Xander.

In Xander's hometown, football is something everyone can agree on. The Orion Chargers welcomed the Rockridge Rockets to the field on Friday night, the game meaning more than just bragging rights.

"Xander is one of the strongest kids we know. His motto through all of this has been 'positivity is the key'." said the announcer at the game. Xander's family was honored before the game and helped with the coin toss.

"I remember standing in the stands and thinking 'what is that family going through? To have such health issues.' I'd think that 'gosh, I'd never want to be the family that had to go through that'," said Beth. "Now that we're the family that has health issues to address, I feel even more blessed because that support is directed at you."

Three brain surgeries. Three scars. Plenty of reasons to give up. But that's just not the Orion-Rockridge community, and that's just not Xander Carlson.

At the game, Xander's family collected donations to bring to families at St. Jude when they travel Memphis in December for a follow-up appointment. If you want to help, you can bring items from this list to Orion High School, Middle School or Elementary School. Xander's family said boxes will be in the front office or you can donate online here. 

Suspect in Minnesota synagogue fire tried to put it out, police say

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(CNN) -- A man suspected of burning a synagogue in Duluth, Minnesota, said he tried to put out the fire by spitting on it and walked away when he was not successful, according to a criminal complaint.

Matthew Amiot faces one count of negligent fires and one count of negligent fires with an injury to a person, according to the police probable cause statement obtained by CNN affiliate WCCO.

A court hearing was held Monday and bond set at $20,000.

An attorney representing Amiot said the man denies all allegations against him, according to Duluth affiliate KBJR, but court documents say he admitted to setting combustible materials on fire outside the building.

Police over the weekend said they do not believe the burning of the nearly 120-year-old synagogue was a hate crime. Investigators have no indication that the fire was motivated by hate or bias, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said.

He did not provide an alternative motive but said the investigation is ongoing.

"This may change as the investigation progresses," Tusken said. "But at this date and time, that is the determination that we have, that I have."

The Adas Israel synagogue caught fire last Monday, authorities said. Amiot used a lighter to set fire to a sukkah, a separate structure, police said. The fire quickly spread to the main building nearby.

Debris from the collapse of the building struck a firefighter, who was knocked unconscious and hospitalized for a concussion.

The synagogue could not be saved and was deemed a total loss, according to court documents.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was called in to assist with the investigation, Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj said -- a standard move for fires involving places of worship.

Authorities determined the point of the fire's origin was outside the building, Krizaj said. There was no indication that an accelerant was used, he said. "That's usually an indication of people's intent. If they want to start a fire, accelerants are usually a common theme that we would find."

It's unclear whether Amiot is represented by an attorney.

'We're not out for vengeance,' rabbi says

Amiot, 36, was arrested Friday, interviewed and booked in the St. Louis County jail for first-degree arson, Tusken said.

Police have had "multiple contacts" and "there have been some arrests," Tusken said, but nothing as significant as an alleged arson.

Amiot was "completely unknown" to the congregation, Rabbi Phillip Sher told reporters.

"I will not speculate as to the man's motives," Sher said. "And as a matter of fact, I would warn everybody that you're innocent until proven guilty, and that's America as it should be."

"We're not out for vengeance," he added. "All I can find out of this event is sadness for everyone."

Sher praised the efforts of firefighters and police, calling their actions "heroic." Firefighters went back into the building, which was still on fire, Sher said, to save religious artifacts important to the congregation.

1 firefighter is dead and 6 colleagues were injured in a building explosion in Maine

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(CNN) -- A fire captain was killed and six colleagues were injured in a building explosion in Farmington, Maine, that may be related to a propane or gas leak, officials said Monday.

Live updates on the building explosion

Police Chief Jack Peck said firefighters went to check out a gas smell just after 8 a.m. at the LEAP facility, which had recently been renovated and expanded. LEAP, which stands for Life Enrichment Advancing People, is a group that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to its website.

When first responders arrived and began investigating the scene, the building exploded.

Capt. Michael Bell, 68, brother of the department's chief, was killed, the state fire marshal's office said. He was a 30-year member of the Farmington Fire Department.

Six other firefighters and a LEAP employee were injured, police said. Five of the firefighters had serious injuries.

LEAP said on Facebook that a maintenance person was injured in the blast.

Peck called it an "unfortunate, tragic accident," and said an early investigation showed the explosion may have been caused by a propane or natural gas leak. Police said the LEAP building was destroyed and multiple homes in the area were damaged.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said many of those injured had been burned. The scene was comparable to what he saw in Iraq when serving overseas, he said.

"It was just total devastation. I've never seen destruction like that in my career," Nichols said. "I've been in law enforcement 35 years, I've never seen anything like this before in my life, except overseas. It was horrible."

Photos from the scene show a building in ruins. Rubble, papers and what appeared to be insulation covered the street and areas around the explosion site.

Jacob Gage told CNN he was lying in bed when his building "shook with a thunderous boom" and his home lost power.

He spoke with his family and then rushed to the scene to check on his sister, who lives nearby.

"The scene was very ominous," he said. "There was still insulation falling from the sky like a gentle snow and first responders were running around trying to administer first aid and locate the missing chief."

Gov. Janet Mills, who was born and raised in Farmington, said she was closely monitoring the incident.

"Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy, especially to the loved ones of the firefighter lost and others injured. I am grateful for the work of first responders who are at the scene and urge Maine people to avoid the area," she said.

Farmington, located along Route 2 in western-central Maine about 35 miles northwest of Augusta, had about 7,760 residents as of the 2010 Census.

Fire investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will work to pinpoint the source of the explosion, state police said.

Making something new out of an outdated treasure at the Hauberg Center in Rock Island

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ROCK  ISLAND, Illinois -- The historic terrace garden at the Hauberg Center in Rock Island is being restored.

In the middle of September 2019, crews were working to clear decades worth of overgrown trees, pulling stumps and grading the land.  Volunteers planned to help clear brush as well.

The garden has been around since the early 1900s, but fell out of use through the years.

Todd Linscott, Chair of the Friends of Hauberg Board, said the garden was designed to make you feel like you're part of nature, using natural aesthetics.

Once the garden is fully restored, the Hauberg Center will host food education programs for area students.

 

49th QC Honor Flight: The trip back and a welcome home

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After an amazing day in D.C it was time to head home!

The Veterans never expected what was waiting for them back in the QC.

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49th QC Honor Flight: Museums and memorials

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The main goal of the Honor flight is to see as much as possible in one day! The first stop was the Air and Space Museum followed by The Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam, and Korean War Memorials, Followed by the World War 2 Memorial.

After that, the vets stopped at the women's museum and the Air Force Memorial!

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Study: Rock Island County residents are paying more in property taxes to maintain pensions

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois --A study released by a taxpayer advocacy group said residents in Rock Island County are paying twice as much as the rest of the country in property taxes.   The reason, they say, is to keep local government pensions  afloat.

The study, prepared by Taxpayers United of America, was released Monday, September 16.  In their findings, they said there are several former government employees that can expect to draw millions of dollars in pension money during their lifetime.

"They're the cause of our bankruptcy," said the group's president, Jim Tobin.  Tobin is an economist who analyzes government pensions and their affects.  "They're outrageous and they need to be cut back."

The group said all Illinois government new hires should be placed in a 401k style retirement savings plan, and that the retirement age should be increased to 65.

49th QC Honor Flight: The journey and the arrival

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Early in the morning on Thursday, September, 12, 100 plus veterans arrived at the QC Airport to donuts and a welcoming party!

A few dogs even came out to support the vets. the flight was around an hour and a half.

Below you can see the in-flight breakfast and some of the welcome at the Washington Airport!

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US bomb-sniffing dogs in Jordan are dying from poor treatment, federal investigation finds

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WASHINGTON – Bomb-sniffing dogs sent from the United States to its Middle Eastern ally Jordan are falling ill and dying due to poor treatment and negligence, a federal investigation has found.

A year-long evaluation by inspectors at the State Department found that at least 10 such dogs in Jordan died between 2008 and 2016 from medical problems. Even those who survive are suffering from “unhealthy conditions,” such as inadequate kennels, poor sanitation, and overwork.

Photos in the report, published last week, show emaciated dogs with ribs protruding from their sides. Their nails are overgrown, and their ears are home to ticks so engorged they have likely been feasting on the dogs for days. In some facilities, there weren’t any dog bowls — the handlers fed the dogs by simply throwing food on the floor.

(Department of State Office of the Inspector General/Canine Validation Center)

For more than 20 years, the US has sent bomb-sniffing and specially trained dogs to partner nations under an anti terrorism assistance program. Despite spending “millions of dollars” training and dispatching the dogs, State Department officials failed to ensure their health and welfare, said the report, which was launched after a hotline complaint about the dogs’ treatment.

According to the report, the State Department’s loose regulation and lack of concrete policies were a big factor in the dogs’ mistreatment. The State Department couldn’t provide investigators detailed information for the dogs in other partner countries besides Jordan, and there often aren’t any written agreements with the countries outlining how to care for the dogs.

This has led to persistent health problems in Jordan, the largest recipient in the program with 61 active bomb-sniffer dogs. Other countries with fewer dogs include Thailand, Morocco, Indonesia, Bahrain.

A Jordanian official told CNN that an investigation into the dogs’ welfare was underway, and included “external assessors.”

“Jordan takes the welfare of its security working dogs very seriously,” the official added.

According to the report, the first dog to die in Jordan was Zoe, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. She died from heat stroke in 2017 — a “terrible death” that was due to improper care rather than an accident, the report said.

The case of 2-year-old Athena, who was severely emaciated and ultimately sent back to the US to recover in 2018, offers a glimpse into the dogs’ filthy living conditions — photos show dirt and feces all over her kennel floor, and an empty water bowl.

(Department of State Office of the Inspector General/Canine Validation Center)

Even more damning is that concerns were raised as early as April 2016, when US canine training staff visited Jordan for a welfare check. The subsequent report noted the high death rate, lack of medical care, insufficient facilities, and that the dogs had “lost the will to work.”

Despite the 2016 findings and recommendations, more dogs were subsequently sent to Jordan, and the program continued to be funded. Even when new measures were put in place, like the deployment of full-time mentors from the US to monitor the dogs in Jordan, the problems continued — two such mentors had been there at the time of Athena’s declining health, and they failed to either notice or intervene.

The report laid out five recommendations, including more frequent welfare checks and the creation of a written agreement with partner nations. The State Department fully agreed to four of the recommendations — but did not agree to a suggestion to stop sending dogs to Jordan until there was a sustainability plan put in place.

Since the report’s publication last week, US officials have demanded long-overdue action — Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, requesting more information and a briefing on the issue.

“It is important for Congress to know whether the (program) is operating effectively and efficiently and whether animals involved in the program are being treated according to the humane and ethical standards that the American people undoubtedly expect,” Grassley wrote.

Water quality sensor hitching ride on Mississippi River boat

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Officials say a sensor attached to the American Queen steamboat will give scientists and cities a better understanding of nutrient levels and water quality along the entire length of the Mississippi River.

U.S. Geological Survey officials, a group of Mississippi River city mayors and the operators of the American Queen gathered Monday for a news conference on the steam-driven vessel in Memphis.

Good water quality is vital for cities that get their drinking water from the heavily traveled river. Mississippi River water is also used for industrial purposes and by tourists who enjoy recreational activities along the waterway.

Although 3,700 water quality sensors area already in fixed locations, officials say the American Queen’s device will help build a larger picture of water quality as it travels from Minnesota to Louisiana.

Nearly 50,000 UAW workers go on strike against GM, America’s biggest automaker

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(CNN) -- The United Auto Workers union went out on strike against General Motors Sunday night, the first work stoppage in the US auto industry in 12 years.

The union's nearly 50,000 hourly full-time and temporary workers walked out at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities, spread across nine states, mostly in the center of the country. It's the largest strike by any union against any business since the last strike at GM in 2007.

The strike started at 11:59 pm Sunday night. The two sides did not formally meet Sunday after the union declared its intention to strike at a morning press conference, although union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said that the dialogue between the two sides was ongoing. A new meeting of the two sides is set for 10 a.m. Monday.

The union said that GM was putting profits ahead of employees who helped to turn the company around when it went through bankruptcy and federal bailout a decade ago.

Read More: GM issues recall of 3.4 million pickup trucks, SUVs to fix brake problem

The union is seeking higher hourly wages, lump sum payments and a better profit sharing plan. It also wants GM to agree to limit the use of temporary workers and give them a clearer path to permanent employment. In addition, the UAW says the two sides are far apart on other issues including health care benefits and job security.

General Motors said it made a substantial offer, including higher pay and profit sharing, along with investment to bring new jobs. It said it offered to commit to invest $7 billion in coming years to preserve 5,400 jobs. It also promised a "solution" for two of the four plants currently slated for closure: one in Detroit and another in Lordstown, Ohio.

The company did not say what the solution would be. But a person familiar with GM's offer said it included a promise to build a new electric truck at Detroit Hamtramck, and to build new batteries for electric vehicles in Lordstown. That work wouldn't start immediately, so the plants would likely remain dark for some time. Work would start sometime in the next four years if the offer is accepted.

A source close to the UAW with direct knowledge of negotiations said most of the proposals the company disclosed publicly on Sunday came very late in negotiations Saturday.

GM announced plans in November of 2018 to shut the Detroit and Lordstown assembly plants, along with transmission plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan.

The UAW has vowed that keeping the plants open would be a key bargaining demand. Late Saturday it said while there had been progress in the talks there was still "significant differences between the parties on wages, health care benefits, temporary employees, job security and profit sharing."

GM says its average hourly employee earns about $90,000 per year, not including benefits. But the number of hourly workers at GM has declined sharply in recent decades, due to a combination of automation, lost market share and outsourcing. But GM still builds the overwhelming majority of cars it sells in the US market in North America. And it has far more factories in the United States than it does in Mexico or Canada.

The union had earlier extended the contracts at two other US automakers with UAW contracts, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Any deal the it reaches with GM will set a pattern for talks with the other two companies.

All three automakers are dealing with slower sales and the need to make huge multi-billion-dollar investments in developing electric and self-driving vehicles that have more long-term potential than current market demand.

It was the need to save money for those efforts that GM halted operations at three US plants — including the assembly line in Lordstown, and announced plans to shut the Hamtramck plant, its last Detroit factory, early next year.

But negotiations come as the union is hit by a scandal involving misappropriation of union funds, and in some cases, union officials accepting bribes from officials at Fiat Chrysler. Nine people associated with the union or Fiat Chrysler have already pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Last week, the Detroit News reported the union's president, Gary Jones, was the unnamed union official identified in the most recent indictment as "UAW Official A." The union has not responded to a request for comment about that report.

Experts say the scandal will make it more difficult to get rank and file union members at the automakers to ratify any tentative deal reached by union leadership. Four years ago the deals all passed by only narrow margins, even though there was no scandal at that time.

The last strike 12 years ago lasted only three days, but some strikes against GM in the past have stretched on for months. For many of the employees hired since 2007, this is their first work stoppage.

Anthony Bourdain’s possessions will be auctioned off to raise money for his family

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(CNN) — For years before his death, Anthony Bourdain brought the world and its cultures into our homes.

Now, fans can own some of what the adventurer had in his — more than 200 of Bourdain’s personal belongings are going up for auction next month.

The items include things like paintings, articles of clothing, and even a custom-made Bob Kramer chef’s knife worth upwards of $6,000. The entire collection is said to be worth up to $400,000, according to Marilyn White, a spokeswoman for Lark Mason Associates, who have been hired by Bourdain’s family to oversee the auction.

The auction will be online from October 9-30, with three exhibits being held in New York, Savannah, Georgia, and New Braunfels, Texas.

Prices for various items range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand, with 60% of the proceeds going to Bourdain’s family — his separated wife Ottavia Busia and daughter Ariane.

The remaining 40% will go toward the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at the Culinary Institute of America, a scholarship supporting students spending a semester abroad or doing a program in global cuisines or cultures international.

Among the possessions being auctioned are pieces of art from Ralph Steadman and John Lurie, both of whom were featured on Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown.

The Lurie painting for sale, “The sky is falling, I am learning to live with it,” was purchased by Bourdain just over a week before he died.

Bourdain, the host of the award-winning CNN series “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” died by suicide in 2018 while filming in France.

Known for his showcasing of global cuisines through shows like “Parts Unknown” and “No Reservations,” along with his writing ability in books like “Kitchen Confidential,” Bourdain’s death shook many.

His respectful uplifting of cultures across the globe made him a respected figure both within food media and outside it.

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world. There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

Lane to close on John Deere Road for two days

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MOLINE, Illinois -- A lane on John Deere Road will be closed for two days of work.

The inside lane on the eastbound side will be closed for about a half-mile. Workers will have it blocked off between Interstate 74 and 38th Street on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 17 and 18.

According to a statement from the Illinois Department of Transportation, crews will be installing foundations for a new overhead sign truss to come.  The overhead truss will be placed in the spring of 2020.

Delays are expected while work is being done.  Drivers are encouraged to find alternative routes.

Missing Florida mother and her four children all found dead in Georgia, sheriff says

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BRANTLEY COUNTY, Ga. – A Florida mother and her four children, missing for more than a month, were found dead Monday, according to Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods.

Casei Jones, 32, and her children, who range in age from 1 to 10, were last seen about six weeks ago in the Ocala, Florida, area, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook. Her family reported them missing Saturday night, police said.

Her body was found near Brantley County in southeast Georgia, about 150 miles north of her last known Florida address, the sheriff’s office said Monday. Investigators found the remains of all four children, Woods said Monday afternoon.

@MCSOFlorida just held a press conference on the murder of a Casei Jones and her four children. Detectives have found the remains of all 5. Her husband, Michael Wayne Jones Jr. is being held by the Brantley County Sheriff's Office in Georgia while the investigation continues pic.twitter.com/4I8dpQLRue

— Julia Laude (@JuliaMaeLaude) September 16, 2019

“True evil poked its head up here in Marion County,” Woods said. “That’s about the only best way to describe it.”

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Jones’ husband, 38-year-old Michael Wayne Jones Jr. for second-degree homicide, police said. He was located in Georgia and is being questioned in connection with her death.

Why America has a White Claw shortage

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America is running out of White Claw hard seltzer, and the shortage might not end until next year.

White Claw sales have skyrocketed over the past year, according to the company and industry analysts. The company can’t keep up with demand. So White Claw has purposefully limited supply to ensure it can continually serve all of its markets.

That distribution practice, called allocation, has been in place for a year, according to Mark Anthony Brands, which owns White Claw and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Stores across the United States receive a constant flow of White Claw, but the drink’s distributors aren’t increasing the volume of shipments to stores that run out.

Allocation allows White Claw to continue showing up in stores every so often, even though it quickly flies off shelves and runs out of stock. That’s why increased demand has translated into White Claw shortages.

The company said it will continue allocate White Claw until supply returns to normal. But the spiked seltzer maker also said it’s “working around the clock” to increase supply and capacity heading into 2020.

“While not completely eliminating intermittent stock outs, we believe this strategy has helped us be in the best position possible on shelf,” Phil Rosse, White Claw’s president, said in a statement. “But with the tremendous response we have had from consumers, understandably, our supply chain has tightened.”

Spiked seltzer is now a billion dollar industry. Sales of hard seltzer surpassed $1 billion for the past year ending in August — a surge of nearly 200% compared to the previous year, according to Nielsen. Hard seltzer makes up 2.5% of the alcohol market, up from 0.9% a year ago.

Sales have soared as people seek drinks with fewer calories and less sugar. Spiked seltzer fits the bill. White Claw and competitor Truly both have around 100 calories per can, and Bon & Viv has about 90 calories per can. Natural Light Setlzer is the most caloric with more than 130 calories per can. Each brand has a few grams of carbohydrates and very little sugar per can.

Truly, owned by Sam Adams-maker Boston Beer Company, told CNN Business it’s also been “experiencing shortages” and is “working hard to keep up with demand.”

Popularity has exploded so much so that Anheuser-Busch reportedly wants to expand its portfolio of spiked seltzers. The company already produces Bon & Viv and Natural Light Seltzer. It soon might expand into a third seltzer brand based off Bud Light, according to multiple reports.

Budweiser didn’t deny it was making a new seltzer, although it didn’t confirm it, either.

“We regularly share conceptual ideas with our wholesaler partners as we develop new ways to meet consumer needs,” a spokesperson told CNN Business, adding it will share new product launches “in due course.”

The company said Bon & Viv hasn’t had any shortages and that sales have increased year-over-year.

Despite the growing number of rivals, White Claw remains the industry leader. Sales are up 250% year over year, according to Nielsen.

Mom found slumped over twin babies’ stroller with PCP, K2 cigar in hand: police

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YONKERS, N.Y. — A 30-year-old mom found unconscious slumped over her babies’ double stroller in Yonkers, New York allegedly told police she only took a few pills, officials said Monday.

Jessica Reyes, 30, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a controlled substance. (Yonkers Police Department)

A concerned witness pointed out Jessica Reyes, a New Rochelle resident, to patrol officers on Friday afternoon, police said. The officers found a burnt cigar in Reyes’ hand.

They took the cigar and tried several times to wake Reyes up.

“Don’t take my children,” she said when she woke up, according to police. “I only took a few pulls.”

Her 6-month-old daughters were taken to a hospital for evaluation. They were both in good health and were turned over to Child Protective Services for case management.

Police later determined Reyes’ cigar had PCP and K2 inside, officials said.

Reyes was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

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