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National

    There is a good chance that as you read this, you can’t name an Aretha Franklin album.  Sure, you know the hits — “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Rock Steady,” “Spanish Harlem” and so many more — that carried her from 1967 through the late 1970s, when she dramatically assumed the throne as the Queen of Soul.  >> Read more trending news  But the truth is, Franklin never had a No. 1 pop album in America. She had eight albums top the R&B charts, and another four that peaked in R&B at No. 2. So while 1967’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” and 1968’s “Lady Soul” and “Aretha Now!” each cracked the Top 3 on the pop charts, in retrospect they all now read like greatest hits albums because they were so good. Which is a testament to the Queen.  But the greatest album Franklin ever recorded, worthy of mention alongside The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” was her 1972 opus, “Amazing Grace.”  Franklin biographer Aaron Cohen said she never recorded anything better before or after “Amazing Grace.” Recorded live over two nights in January 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Franklin re-interpreted a dozen or so traditional gospel songs with a full choir and band.  The result of those recordings was a double album that completely transformed gospel music.  With no singles, “Amazing Grace” sold more than 2 million copies, Franklin’s biggest seller to date. It inspired everyone from Mick Jagger to Whitney Houston, and every major black choir that relies on a band and a female soloist.  Yet, strangely, the album has largely been forgotten. Or it has become, at best, underappreciated. Because of the genre and the length of the live songs, most of the radio airplay was limited to gospel stations instead of mainstream soul and R&B stations. Related: The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline Almost immediately after the album was released, Franklin moved on to other projects. She released three Top 10 soul albums over the next two years, and by 1976 had scored one of her biggest post-1960s’ hits, the sexy “Something He Can Feel.” “Amazing Grace,” at least as a concept, was behind her. For example, in 1998, when Franklin’s definitive greatest hits album was released, not one of the 41 songs was from “Amazing Grace.”  And in 2008, when Rolling Stone magazine put Franklin on the cover as one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time,” the Queen of Soul’s crown jewel “Amazing Grace” was not mentioned in the article about her. From the get-go, the idea of such an album was considered risky.  Although Franklin had come out of the church under the tutelage of her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, she had thoroughly dominated the late 1960s and early 1970s as a soul singer. That dominance, however, came through trial and error. Her first album, “Songs of Faith,” was actually a gospel recording released when she was 14. And she spent several years at Columbia Records, where there was a struggle to find Franklin’s voice as she dabbled in jazzy pop on albums such as “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin.”  But by 1967, everything changed when she signed with Atlantic Records. If her Detroit brethren at Motown represented the voice of young America, Franklin — with her afro and occasional African headdresses — became the voice of black America. She was even a favorite of Martin Luther King Jr., and helped raise thousands of dollars for the civil rights movement.  Related: Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies: A look back at her legacy On the second night of recording “Amazing Grace,” the Rev. Franklin makes an appearance and tells the congregation a story about bumping into a woman at a Detroit dry cleaners. The woman had seen Aretha Franklin on television the night before and told the reverend the performance was alright. “But I will be glad when she comes back to the church,” the woman said.  You could almost see the Rev. Franklin winking when he responded, “Listen, baby. Let me tell you something. If you want to know the truth, she has never left the church. All you have to do is have something in here, and the ability to hear, and the ability to feel, and you will know that Aretha is still a gospel singer.”  Cohen, who penned “Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace” as part of the “33⅓ (Thirty-Three and a Third)” series of books that dissect a single album, said coming back to the church was a natural fit for Franklin that also made business sense.  The early 1970s saw a sudden surge of crossover, religious-themed music wrapped up in R&B, pop and rock — from “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, to “My Sweet Lord' by George Harrison, to the soundtrack of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” to just about everything from the Staple Singers. The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, after attending the Franklin concerts, ran back to the studio to record “Shine A Light” for their 1972 album “Exile on Main Street.” Related: Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years At the 1972 Grammy Awards, when “Amazing Grace” won for best soul gospel performance, the “white” Grammy went to Elvis Presley for best inspirational performance.  “My interest in the album is because I was blown away when I first heard it. I was blown away the second time I heard it. And the third,” Cohen said told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Cohen said recording a live gospel album gave Franklin a freedom she didn’t have through the confines of creating three-minute radio friendly hits such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think.”  “She was able to be who she is,” said Cohen, whose new book, “Move on Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power,” is due in the fall. “If she wanted to sing for 20 minutes, she could sing for 20 minutes. She could improvise. She could turn a phrase. She could stretch a vowel.”  In other words, she could go to church. Backed by the Southern California Community Choir under the direction of her mentor James Cleveland, Franklin, said Cohen, never sounded better in voice and range.  With gospel great Clara Ward listening in the pews, Franklin sang “How I Got Over,” which Ward originally wrote and recorded in 1951 after getting stopped by a group of white men while traveling through Atlanta because she was driving a luxury Cadillac.  She covered Marvin Gaye’s “Wholy Holy,” and Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” She wailed on “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and rocked on “Climbing Higher Mountains” and “Old Landmark.”  She teased Cleveland on “Precious Memories,” and played the role of story-teller on “Mary, Don’t You Weep.”  She labored for 16 minutes on the title track “Amazing Grace” the first night, and spent 15 minutes on “Never Grow Old” the second.  When the spirit moved them — and they were moved a lot — the congregation upheld the deep black church tradition of call and response, rhythmically clapping and calling for ‘Retha to slow down or go on.  Rolling Stone magazine at the time said: “She plays havoc with the traditional styles but she sings like never before on record. The liberation and abandon she has always implied in her greatest moments are now fully and consistently achieved.”  “At that time, it was a look backwards, which for R&B was not common,” Cohen said. “R&B was about looking forward. But she was looking at the present and looking at the past.”  Cohen said gospel radio and fans of gospel and Franklin ate the album up.  “There were a lot of people that were church people who felt they could have this album in their homes. And there were a lot of people who just loved Aretha,” Cohen said.  Although there was a brief piano performance of “Mary, Don’t You Weep” on Soul Train and she would occasionally revisit some of the work, Franklin never really talked about the album. The same year that “Amazing Grace” came out, Franklin also released the album “Young, Gifted and Black,” which won her a 1972 Grammy Award for best female R&B vocal performance. And with that, Franklin resumed her rightful place as the Queen of Soul.  In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, based almost solely on “Amazing Grace,” she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  “Overall, it is a great album because it is one of America’s greatest singers at her vocal peak, and at her peak in terms of material that she believes in,” Cohen said.
  • A California husband and father of four was killed early Saturday as he waited for a ride-share driver to pick him up after a night out, police said. Chrystian Valdez Negrete, 40, of Oakland, was struck by a stray bullet around 2 a.m. Saturday in the 4400 block of International Boulevard, The East Bay Times reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police officials told the Times that the 36-year-old man who was the intended target of the gunfire was also wounded, but survived. Investigators said Valdez Negrete and the other man did not know one another, but both had been in a nearby nightclub before the shooting. Co-workers at Bay Area Beverage Co., in Richmond, were shocked to learn what happened to Valdez Negrete, who they described as a hardworking, beloved employee.  “His attendance was always perfect. He was a hard worker, he was great,” said one co-worker, who the Times said asked to remain anonymous. “This is a tight community. Everyone is really close. We’re all still pretty upset.” Valdez Negrete worked for the company for the past 16 years, according to KTVU in Oakland.  Bay Area Beverage President TJ Louderback told the news station that Valdez Negrete leaves behind a wife and four children, ages 17 to 6. His oldest daughter is in Mexico, and the family had hoped to bring her to the U.S. “He was the primary breadwinner,” Louderback told KTVU. “He was a very good father. He kind of took care of everything, it sounds like, within the family.” >> Read more trending news The company has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Valdez Negrete’s family. His wife, Maria, described him on the page as “the rock of the family.” “He just kept us all together,” the widow said.  She said the children would have a hard time growing up without their father. Her goal is to keep their lives as normal as she can and to help them focus on school so they can someday go to college.  KTVU reported that Louderback and other officials are working with Crime Stoppers of Oakland to double the reward being offered for information leading to an arrest.  “As part of his extended family we are taking it upon ourselves to show the Valdez family that Chrystian was an important part of our team and that he, and they, matter,” the GoFundMe page said. “Amongst other things, we have started this fundraiser to support Chrystian's wife and children. Bay Area Beverage will match all employee/supplier contributions up to $10,000. “We are also contributing significant financial resources in the form of a reward to help find Chrystian's killer.”  As of Thursday morning, the fundraising page had raised just over $2,200 of its $30,000 goal.  The Times reported that the Crime Stoppers reward is currently $15,000. Anyone with information is asked to call Oakland police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.
  • The number of overdose victims linked to a suspected bad batch of synthetic marijuana has risen to 76 in New Haven, Connecticut, as officials try to determine exactly what sickened people. People on and around the historic New Haven Green near Yale University began falling ill shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, and the overdoses continued into Thursday morning. No deaths were reported, and most people brought to hospitals have been discharged, officials said. Symptoms varied. Many victims lost consciousness, officials said. Others vomited. Some just became nauseous or lethargic. Toxicology testing remained incomplete Thursday. Some victims tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl, but it appeared most if not all the overdoses were caused only by a potent batch of 'K2' synthetic marijuana, said Dr. Kathryn Hawk, an emergency medicine physician and professor at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where many of the victims were treated. Hawk said the people who tested positive may have taken other drugs laced with fentanyl in addition to the synthetic marijuana, which is plant material sprayed with drugs and chemicals. Both drugs, especially fentanyl, have been linked to rising overdoses across the country. Hawk said some people got better with the help of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, while others didn't. 'The most important point is when you buy something on the street, you never know what you're going to get,' she said. Officials said three people have been arrested in connection with the overdoses, including a man who may have been giving out free samples of K2. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration tested some of the synthetic marijuana seized in New Haven and did not find fentanyl, said Rick Fontana, the city's emergency operations director. Fontana said 72 people were brought to hospitals and four refused to be treated or transported to hospitals. 'Yesterday was extremely, extremely busy, something we haven't seen in quite some time, a lot of people dropping all at the same time,' Fontana said. He said a few people fell ill Thursday morning, but it wasn't immediately clear if they used the same bad batch of synthetic marijuana. New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became sick from synthetic marijuana. The city also saw more than a dozen synthetic marijuana overdoses in late January. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.
  • A woman upset over the breakup with her boyfriend, stopped feeding and caring for the dog he left at her house for more than a month.  >> Read more trending news  “Champ” an emaciated mastiff-rottweiler mix, was rescued Tuesday, after a passerby saw the 50-pound dog and called animal control.  The 16-month old dog, which should weigh about 110 pounds, was taken to a veterinarian, and then transferred to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC where he underwent a blood transfusion and testing. The rescue group has raised about $4,000 for Champ’s care through its PayPal account. “His condition speaks for itself. He was starved and left to die,” the rescue group said in a Facebook post. “He was in hell with no way to escape.” The woman, who has not been identified, was charged with animal cruelty, the rescue group said.
  • The Queen is gone. Aretha Franklin, the groundbreaking soul singer whose voice is firmly rooted in music history, died Thursday, Aug. 16, in her longtime home of Detroit. She was 76. Throughout a career that made songs such as “Think,” “Rock Steady” and Otis Redding’s “Respect” everlasting jukebox smashes, the woman christened by Rolling Stone as the greatest singer of all time accumulated 18 Grammy Awards and 44 nominations. In 1987, her groundbreaking persona and music were recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when the Queen of Soul became the first female artist to be inducted into the shrine to musical luminaries. >> Read more trending news  “Being in Aretha Franklin’s presence is a unique experience,” her longtime friend singer Peabo Bryson said. “You suddenly realize this is the Queen of Soul. I mean that in the fact that she probably has the singular, most important body of work for a female ever. That body of work is second to none. It is beyond peer. That music represented every woman’s struggle…she wasn’t a feminist, but her take on a woman’s plight was fervent. It was concise. It was comprehensive.” Franklin formally stopped touring in 2003, but she continued to play sporadic dates in the decade-plus following.  Related: Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years The singer’s well-documented fear of flying actually stemmed from a rough flight she endured departing Atlanta after an appearance at the Fox Theatre in 1983. As Franklin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 1993 interview, “I was leaving Atlanta in a very small plane,' she recalls. 'A two- engine prop plane, I believe. And it was a very bad flight. I'm very much a ground person now.” In another chat with the AJC in 2003, Franklin recalled some early memories of playing in Atlanta. “So much of my early career included Atlanta,” she said. “Some of my first tours with Sam (Cooke) and Jackie Wilson  . . . We had some of the best times there. I also came many times with my dad (the late Rev. C. L. Franklin) when I did gospel at the City Auditorium. Then there was the Royal Peacock. Let me tell you that (place) was as hot as it could get! There was another place on Auburn Avenue called Henry's Grill. Mmmm. The absolute best grits and sausage at Henry's Grill, honey.” Franklin’s career – during which she sold more than 75 million records worldwide - spanned decades, from her 1960 Top 10 R&B hit “Today I Sing the Blues” through a 2007 chart appearance with Fantasia, “Put You Up on Game.”  In between, she charted with Aretha-fied versions of songs by other greats including Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman”), the Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”), Simon & Garfunkel (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”) and The Rolling Stones (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”), among others.  Related: The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline With her vibrant personality and outfits worthy of musical royalty, she became a staple of the MTV era, winning a new generation of fans with the hits (and videos) “Freeway of Love,” “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and feisty collaborations with the Eurythmics (“Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves”) and George Michael (“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”). For years, Franklin performed under a cloud of unspoken health issues. She frequently canceled concerts and in 2017 announced that it would be her final year of regular touring.  Related: Aretha Franklin dies at 76 Franklin’s last public performance was at Chicago’s Ravinia festival in September 2017. Shortly afterward, she canceled a slew of shows - including an October date at the Fox Theatre - citing “unfortunate circumstances.” The powerhouse singer was also scheduled to headline this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but bowed out a month before her April appearance. During her last concert in Atlanta, in November 2014 at the Fox Theatre, Franklin wove vague details about her health problems into the gospel song, “Old Landmark.”  At the end of the song, Franklin shifted into preacher mode, shouting about doctor’s visits, receiving bad news, praying and keeping her faith and getting a clean CAT scan result – all while the music played behind her. 
  • Musicians, fans and friends of Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” are honoring her legacy after news of her death Thursday. Franklin’s publicist said she died at her home in Detroit, according to The Associated Press. She was 76. >> Read more trending news  Fans are remembering Franklin’s singular presence, stage command and legendary performances. >>Related: Aretha Franklin dies at 76 Franklin’s family issued an official statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.  “We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.” Family members confirmed Monday to WDIV-TV that Franklin, 76, was “gravely ill,” after a report from entertainment site Showbiz411 claimed she was being surrounded by friends and family in Detroit. >>Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years Franklin canceled several concerts this year due to health issues, Fox13Memphis reported. According to The Associated Press, “she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.” She performed in her hometown of Detroit in June 2017, the Detroit Free Press reported. She ended the concert with an appeal for those in the crown to, “Please keep me in your prayers,” according to the newspaper. She last performed in November at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York City, the News reported. >>Related: The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family moved to Detroit when she was young, according to Fox13Memphis. Franklin started singing when she was young, with encouragement from her mother, Barbara, and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. She started out singing gospel but launched a career in secular music after she turned 18. She rose to fame after signing in 1967 with Atlantic Records. Franklin’s career, spanning six decades, has spawned hits including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” She’s considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. Franklin was inducted in 1987 to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She’s earned 18 Grammy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush described Franklin as “a woman of achievement, deep character and a loving heart.”
  • Federal officials are investigating Ohio State University's response to allegations against a team doctor now accused of sexual misconduct against scores of athletes and other male students in the 1980s and 1990s. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will examine whether Ohio State has responded 'promptly and equitably' to students' complaints, including claims that school officials knew about misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss but didn't stop him, the school said Thursday. That office oversees enforcement of a federal law that bars sex discrimination in education. Advocacy groups including the National Women's Law Center had urged the department to conduct such a review, as was done with headline-making allegations of recurrent sexual misconduct by doctors at Michigan State University and the University of Southern California. Ohio State's chief compliance officer, Gates Garrity-Rokous, said the school has responded appropriately since allegations were made this spring about Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. 'We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency,' said Garrity-Rokous, a university vice president. Some former students say they raised concerns about Strauss to university employees as early as the late 1970s, early in Strauss' nearly 20-year employment there. Ohio State has said allegations that staff didn't properly respond back then are a key part of the ongoing independent investigation being conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie. They have received accounts of Strauss' sexual misconduct from more than 100 people , including male athletes from 14 sports and others raising concerns about the doctor's interactions at the student health center and his off-campus medical office. Many of the accusers who have spoken publicly allege Strauss groped them or conducted unnecessary genital exams. Some of them are plaintiffs in three related lawsuits filed against the school. The allegations range from 1979 to 1997, during most of Strauss' two decades on the faculty and medical staff. Employment records released by the university referenced no reprimands or disciplinary action over any such concerns, but Ohio State has a record of at least one documented complaint from 1995, when a student health center director said a student's complaint about being inappropriately touched by Strauss during an exam was the first such complaint he'd received. Strauss' relatives have said they were shocked by sexual abuse allegations against him and want to know the truth. Ohio State has urged anyone with information about Strauss to contact Perkins Coie, noting that the investigators are concerned about re-traumatizing victims and thus aren't reaching out directly to former students who may have been examined by Strauss. ___ Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 ___ Have a tip? Contact the authors securely at https://www.ap.org/tips
  • The 'Queen of Soul,' legendary singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin, died Thursday from advanced pancreatic cancer, her publicist said in a statement. She was 76. >> Read more trending news Franklin died at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit from “advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type,” publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said in a statement. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” Franklin’s family said in a statement released by Quinn. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.” >> ‘Thank you, Aretha’: Fans, friends remember the ‘Queen of Soul’ Family members thanked Franklin’s fans and friends for their support. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers,” the statement said. “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.” Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the coming days. President Donald Trump mourned Franklin on Thursday, writing in a tweet that, “She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.” “She will be missed!” he wrote. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called Franklin “a performer without peers” in a statement released after her passing. >> Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies: A look back at her legacy  “Throughout her extraordinary life and career, she earned the love -- and yes, the respect -- of millions of people, not just for herself and for women everywhere, but for the city she loved so dearly and called home,” Duggan said. “I was honored to present Aretha with the key to our city last year and her last concert in Detroit. While she may have passed, Aretha Franklin will always have the key to our hearts. Friends, fans and celebrities took to social media to mourn Franklin: Family members confirmed Monday to WDIV-TV that Franklin, 76, was gravely ill after a report from entertainment site Showbiz411 claimed she was being surrounded by friends and family in Detroit. Tom Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio host and friend of Franklin’s, said Monday that Franklin has been in hospice care for a week, according to The Detroit News. Franklin had announced plans to retire from touring in February 2017 to focus on her family and a few select projects, the News reported. >> Beyonce dedicates Detroit OTR II show to Aretha Franklin 'I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now,” Franklin told WDIV in 2017. “I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn't be good either.” Franklin canceled several concerts this year due to health issues, Fox13Memphis reported. According to The Associated Press, “she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.” She performed  in her hometown of Detroit in June 2017, the Detroit Free Press reported. She ended the concert with an appeal for those in the crown to, “Please keep me in your prayers,” according to the newspaper. >> Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years She last performed in November at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York City, the News reported. Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family moved to Detroit when she was young, according to Fox13Memphis. Franklin started singing when she was young, with encouragement from her mother, Barbara, and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. She started out singing gospel but launched a career in secular music after she turned 18. She rose to fame after signing in 1967 with Atlantic Records. >> The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline Franklin’s career, spanning six decades, spawned hits including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” She’s considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. Franklin was inducted in 1987 to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She earned 18 Grammy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush described Franklin as “a woman of achievement, deep character and a loving heart.” Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Could clean clothes be the key to stopping bullying? In one high school in New Jersey, the answer is yes. Akbar Cook, the principal at West Side High School, said that he just wanted to make sure that kids don’t miss school because of being bullied and that some were being picked on because of dirty clothes, WABC reported. Some students couldn’t afford to keep their school uniforms clean, NJ.com reported. Cook told NJ.com that students with dirty clothing would be photographed and the photos posted on social media as cyberbullying. >> Read more trending news  So instead of punishing the students for missing school, Cook, who has been principal for two weeks, kicked out the football team from their locker room and put in washers and dryers so students can do laundry. He got a grant for $20,000 to buy five washing machines and five dryers, along with what was needed to change the locker room into a laundry, NJ.com reported. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  Local businesses and families have donated laundry supplies, NJ.com and WABC reported. He says being there for his kids will correlate to their grades. >>Read: High school installs showers, laundry facilities for homeless students “Because the kids feel that and they’ll fight on that SAT or that test the same way you fight for them,” Cook told WABC. “That’s who I am.” The laundry room will be open for students Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting Aug. 27, before the school year starts. Then it will be open daily starting Sept. 4.
  • A Colorado man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of his pregnant wife and their two young children, authorities say, after previously telling media how upsetting it was to be alone in their normally bustling house after they vanished earlier this week. Chris Watts, 33, was taken into custody Wednesday, according to police in the town of Frederick, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) north of Denver. His 34-year-old wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, were reported missing Monday by a family friend. Police said on Twitter early Thursday that Chris Watts will be held at the Weld County Jail. He has not yet been charged, and it wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer. Authorities did not release any information on the whereabouts or conditions of Shanann or the girls but plan to release more information at a morning news conference. Chris Watts spoke previously with Denver TV outlets about missing his family and his hopes for their safe return. He said his wife returned home about 2 a.m. Monday after a flight for a work trip was delayed. He said the two had an 'emotional conversation' before he left for work a few hours later and that he became concerned after she did not return his calls or texts or that of her friends. He said he came home to an empty house after a friend knocked on the door at noon and got no answer. He told KMGH-TV about how traumatic it was to spend the night in the family's unusually quiet home and missing telling his daughters to eat their dinner and turning on their bedroom monitors. 'Last night I had every light in the house on. I was hoping that I would just get ran over by the kids running in the door, just barrel-rushing me, but it didn't happen,' he said. Shanann Watts' Facebook account paints a portrait of a happy family, with a constant feed of photos and videos of her family, friends and herself. Her comments are typically upbeat and say how happy she is, whether she's running errands, playing with her kids or promoting a health program. She posted selfies of her and her husband smiling in restaurants, in front of the ocean on vacation and at their house. On one from May 5, she wrote: 'I love this man! He's my ROCK!' She posted a photo on June 19 of some texts with her husband after sending him a sonogram. He replied that he loved the baby already. She posted: 'I love Chris! He's the best dad us girls could ask for.' Her page has photo collages and video slide shows praising Chris Watts for taking care of her and their girls, how their love was growing stronger and how he was why she was brave enough to agree to a third child. The couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. They estimated they had the same range of assets as liabilities, according to court records. Shanann Watts was from North Carolina, and her parents' next-door neighbor, Joe Beach, said he had just seen her when she visited the neighborhood of modest homes in Aberdeen. 'She was here for about three weeks. I talked her a couple times,' he said in a phone interview. 'We were talking about general things, about how her two girls were doing and how life was out in Colorado. She didn't give me an indication that there was anything wrong. She seemed pretty happy.' He said he knew her parents well and had known Shanann since she was a teenager. Beach said she was a nice person with two lovely children, both of whom he had seen on their recent visit. 'They were sweet kids. The oldest child was quite talkative for her age,' he said. He said he hasn't spoken to her parents since the tragedy, but a neighbor told him they flew to Colorado. 'I'm surprised that it happened,' he said. 'I wouldn't expect for anything like that to happen. She was good people.' Shanann's father, Frank Rzucek, said on Facebook that the family didn't want to talk to the media. She moved to Colorado from North Carolina with her husband in 2012, according to property records and her social media accounts. She had been in a hurry to sell a house in Belmont, west of Charlotte, and left behind the furniture as part of the sale, said the man who bought it, Byron Falls. ____ Drew reported from Raleigh, N.C. Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin in Denver and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.