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COACH FIRED OVER WATERMELON, APE-LIKE CELEBRATIONS: CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A high school football coach was fired because of postgame victory celebrations the district superintendent said involved players smashing watermelons and making ape-like sounds.

Superintendent Nancy McGinley said Tuesday she was contacted last week by a board member who said the parent of an opposing player was offended by the celebrations by the mostly white Academic Magnet High School football team in Charleston County. The Raptors were smashing watermelons with smiling faces drawn on them and eating the fruit as a postgame snack.

The district announced that Bud Walpole will no longer coach the football team or the girls’ basketball team. He is still a teacher at the school.

A phone listing for Walpole could not be found. On online petition had 1,500 names late Tuesday seeking his reinstatement.

McGinley said the district met with players and students, the head coach and the two assistant coaches last week. She said the coaches told district officials they were aware of the ritual and “they did not observe cultural insensitivity.”

She said after victories the team would gather and a face was drawn on a watermelon with eyes and a nose and a smile showing a mouthful of teeth. While two players smashed the watermelon, McGin ley said the others made chanting sounds.


 2 INDIO OFFICERS SURRENDER IN MISCONDUCT CASE: INDIO, Calif. (AP) — Sheriff’s officials say two Indio officers have surrendered after a judge issued arrest warrants for them in a police misconduct case involving an alleged rough arrest.

The Desert Sun reports a felony arrest warrant was issued Monday for Officer Charles Holloway alleging assault under the color of authority. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

A misdemeanor warrant was issued for Officer Gerardo Martinez alleging being an accessory after the fact. His attorney declined to comment.

Both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments.

The case involves the September arrest of 24-year-old Ruben Joshua Martinez, who alleges he was beaten and stomped repeatedly while on the ground with his hands behind his back.

The newspaper says a criminal investigation was launched after a restaurant owner came forward with surveillance video of the incident.


TAXI RATES IN LAS VEGAS AREA WILL TOP NEW YORK’S: LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada taxi regulators have approved a rate hike that would make cab rides in Las Vegas and surrounding areas the second most expensive among U.S. metropolitan areas with tourism-based economies.

A report commissioned by a coalition of cab companies shows rates will be higher than those in New York or San Francisco, but lower than Atlantic City’s.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the Nevada Taxi Authority approved a more than 8 percent rate increase Monday, although it’s unclear when the new prices will take effect.

The board must get funding approval to change the meters on about 3,000 cabs.

The base taxi rate will rise from $3.30 to $3.45, while each extra mile will cost $2.88, up from $2.60. It’s first time the rates have changed since 2008.


LIGHTS OUT TIME FOR FIRST THOMAS KINKADE GALLERY: PLACERVILLE  (AP) — A Northern California shop that was the first to feature the work of artist Thomas Kinkade and helped popularize the self-proclaimed “Painter of Light” is going out of business.

The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday that the 24-year-old Thomas Kinkade Gallery in downtown Placerville will start selling off its inventory of Kinkade paintings, mugs, night lights and blankets at an invitation-only closing sale scheduled for Thursday.

The Bee says the gallery’s owners told customers in a letter that they decided to close up shop only after careful consideration, but did not give a reason for the decision.

Kinkade grew up in Placerville and his earliest artwork portrayed the town as he imagined it looked at the turn of the 20th Century. He died at his California home in 2012 from what the coroner called an accidental overdose.