Proposed Stillwater apartment complex raises concerns from those nearby » Local News » Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Plans to build a new apartment complex could provide urban infill and student housing, but the scale of the proposed complex has stirred concerns with some nearby homeowners and businesses. Elsey Partners LLC has proposed building an apartment complex at the northwest corner of Hester Street and Fourth Avenue on .87 acres of land. Planners said it was inspired by the nearby Stillwater Flats and would build up instead of out. The complex would have five levels of living space as well as a six-story parking garage. One of the parking levels would be mostly below ground level. The apartments would have 164 bedrooms and 151 parking spaces in the parking garage. At a June 21 Planning Commission meeting, project engineer Kelly Harris said the building will feature neo-Georgian architecture intended to match the look of buildings on the OSU campus. Developers are asking for variances from the standard zoning. From the highest point of the sloped roofs, the structure would be 72 feet tall. Current zoning places the height limit at 50 feet. Developers are also asking for no building setbacks and to have a 123-unit-per-acre density instead of the current level of 25 units per acre. By building up, the project would provide urban infill instead of the usual urban sprawl, said Bryan Elsey, project co-developer. “I’m not going to say it isn’t a high density development,” Elsey said. “But we do think that density — when it’s located in the right place — isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” While the unit per acre measurement is high, he added the apartment complex would have far more one- and two-bedroom units than Stillwater Flats to accommodate what Elsey called a changing trend in student housing. He said that makes the bedroom-per-acre measurement comparable. At 72-feet high, the building would be two feet taller than Stillwater Flats, Elsey said, even though it is one story taller. “We have an extra living level, but we’re digging down six feet to get that extra level,” he said. The project would require variances on current parking requirements. Developers are asking to build 151 standard parking spots instead of the required 152. Additionally, the complex would have four handicap spots instead of the required six and 20 bike parking spots instead of the current 107 requirement. The size of the parking spots would be two feet shorter than required, but Harris said the 18-foot by nine-foot parking stalls are the standard size in parking garages. A handful at the Planning Commission meeting voiced their concerns about what impact the project could have on neighbors. The comments were made during the commission’s sketch review phase. This optional phase was adopted by commissioners within the last year to allow developers to get feedback on projects prior to actually submitting their planned unit developments, which require thousands of dollars worth of engineering and drainage studies. The plans will have to go back before the Planning Commission to be approved and then to the City Council. Dick Lowery, University Heights Baptist Church trustees chairman, said he worries how the apartment will affect already-limited parking in the area. There are only seven parking spots available on the street that would be available in the immediate area of the proposed apartments which would be available for visitors, he said. “Parking in that area is a problem. The students fill up all of the street parking every day,” Lowery said. “That’s a lot of people in a small space.” Lou Salyer, who lives south of the proposed apartments, said the he thought the building would be too tall and didn’t like the lack of setbacks. “I don’t mind a nice-looking building, but I don’t think it fits with the neighborhood, and I don’t think it fits with Stillwater,” Salyer said. “If everyone else in the neighborhood has to build with setbacks, I don’t see why they (don’t have to).” She also said she worried about the density of students in the area. “I don’t want to live among dorms,” Salyer said. A few of the commissioners said they thought Stillwater Flats had gone well, and they thought the project might work well for a neighborhood that was in transition. Commissioner Dusty Lane said he hasn’t heard negative feedback about the Stillwater Flats and that style of apartments. “I do like the thought of building up,” Lane said. Given the proximity to campus, the location seemed appropriate, he said. Chairwoman Becky Teague said she has not seen any major on-street parking issues around the Stillwater Flats and thought it was a good opportunity for infill. Teague also encouraged the developers and concerned neighbors to meet and work together to find design solutions that satisfy both sides. Richard Dermer said he attended a recent neighborhood meeting with the developers and is still worried. Dermer owns Hideaway Pizza, which is a few blocks north of the apartment site. Dermer said he doesn’t think the number of parking spots is enough for the number of bedrooms involved. He also said that while a OSU-owned gravel lot across the street might accommodate visitors who have an OSU permit, that lot will likely be developed by the university in the coming years. “Visitors will look for the closest parking,” he said. Dermer added that visitors who might stay Friday or Saturday night will likely fill up the parking Saturday and Sunday mornings of the nearby churches and businesses, particularly when the city stops giving out tickets during the weekend. He is collecting signatures from local business owners and neighbors to take to the Planning Commission. Dermer said he likes building up when it’s done correctly and agrees the neighborhood is in transition, but he has reservations about the changes he expects to see if the apartments are built. “This isn’t a transition,” he said. “It’s an upheaval.”

Neb. Supreme Court rejects irrigation district’s push to declare river basin over-appropriated

OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday rejected an irrigation district’s appeal asking the court to compel the state to designate areas of the Republican River basin as over-appropriated.

The Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District, which is in the southwest of the state, had argued that the river basin’s current designation as fully appropriated isn’t sustainable. The district is most concerned with portions of the river upstream of a diversion dam in Cambridge. A change from fully- to over-appropriated would put stricter limits on the amount of water that can be used in that part of the river basin.

The Department of Natural Resources has held that it doesn’t have the authority to upgrade the basin’s appropriation status under revisions made in 2004 to a state water law.

In its opinion, the high court said it doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case because the irrigation district failed to show how it was injured by the state agency’s decision.

The Republican River starts in eastern Colorado, flows into Kansas and Nebraska and then returns to Kansas in Republic County in the northeastern part of the state. Its basin covers almost 25,000 square miles. A 1943 river compact signed by the three states allocates 49 percent of the river’s water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado.

In 1998, Kansas sued Nebraska, alleging its neighbor to the north violated the compact by allowing thousands of wells to tap the river and its tributaries. The three states settled that lawsuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decree approved the settlement. But Kansas officials have continued to complain that Nebraska is taking too much water. Kansas and Nebraska are working with an arbitrator to resolve their latest disagreements over the river, but the case could wind up back in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jeanelle Lust of Lincoln, an attorney for the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District, was out of the office Friday and did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Shannon Kingery, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office, which represented the state, said the decision speaks for itself.

State police investigate deadly motorcycle crash in Carmel

CARMEL, Maine — Maine State Police are investigating a motorcycle accident Friday that left a Levant man dead.

The victim has been identified as 51-year-old Michael Howe, Trooper Trevor Snow said Friday night.

Snow said the accident happened shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Cook Road. He said Howe was traveling west on his 2001 Kawasaki Vulcan when he failed to negotiate a left curve. The motorcycle left the pavement, went onto a soft shoulder and the driver lost control.

The motorcycle then struck a large pile of rocks at the end of a driveway. Howe, who was thrown from the motorcycle, died at the scene, Snow said. The driver, he said, was not wearing a helmet and did not have a passenger on board when the accident occurred.

The accident remained under investigation early Friday evening, said Snow, who is the primary investigator. Trooper Marc Poulin is reconstructing the accident. Other state police officers who assisted are Sgt. Scott Hamilton, Trooper Seth Edwards and Trooper Barry Meserve.

Zach Braff: Jersey Boy Makes Playbill – Playbill.com

Zach Braff: Jersey Boy Makes Playbill

By Harry Haun04 Jul 2011

Beyond the footlights, the tube and the silver screen is Zach Braff, the playwright of Off-Broadway's All New People.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take New Jersey out of Zach Braff. Some tried. He made his mark out of state, on network TV, putting in nine seasons as the daydreaming-doc narrator of "Scrubs," Dr. John "J.D." Dorian — but the first thing he did to cash in on this celebrity was to write, direct and star in "Garden State," a feature shot in 25 days in the spring of 2003 in his South Orange backyard.

Eight years later — after a number of profitable, high-profile interruptions — he has come home again (figuratively, at least) for his first produced play, All New People. It's playing a world-premiere engagement at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre in the same end-of-season slot he occupied last year as an actor in Paul Weitz's kinky comedy, Trust.

"All New People takes place in the dead of winter on Long Beach Island, a summer vacation spot in New Jersey," he illuminates. "In order to rent for the summer, you go down in the winter and look at houses, but when you go down, it's just this giant, snow-covered ghost town — a beach community, and nobody's there."

Braff knows this for a fact, having made the trek a few years ago to get his dad a beach house as a birthday present for family gatherings over the summer. "It was so spooky and desolate — the perfect setting for something. That was the impetus. Then I put in this place lots of things that were swirling about [that] I wanted to write about."

Despite (or, perhaps, because of) the bleakness of the setting, it is a comedy, focusing on a quartet of thirtysomething strangers who come together and share 90 minutes of real time in an out-of-season beach house in this isolated island hamlet.

So far, when Braff comes home, he has come, if not as a stranger, as a depressed prodigal — here, a suicidal air-traffic controller seeking solitude from the hurly-burly real world. In "Garden State," which was more of a coming-awake comedy than a coming-of-age one, he was an overmedicated actor returning for his mom's funeral.

In both instances, he encounters characters who bring him to life-as-we-know-it. The beach housemates in the play include a rent chick dispatched to him by a friend hoping to pull him out of the doldrums, a homey fireman on duty to protect the town during the off-season and an eccentric Brit realtor desperately seeking a green card.

Braff in Trust photo by Joan Marcus

Braff toyed with the obvious idea of doing the lead role in the play himself, then backed off and entrusted it to Justin Bartha, who scored a standout Broadway debut last season in Lend Me a Tenor. The rest of the roles are dispatched by Anna Camp, Krysten Ritter and David Wilson Barnes.

"I just want to focus on being the writer," Braff explains, "really listening to the play and sitting there in the audience and watching it unfold. I think, in order for me to do the best writing job that I possibly can, I need to just focus on the words."

As a playwright he injected a few cinematic touches, like pre-shot film flashbacks with actors who are just on film and not on stage: Denis O'Hare and Tony Goldwyn.

Peter DuBois, who guided Braff through Trust, was his obvious choice to direct All New People. "This is the first time I've written something that I'm not going to direct, so I wanted someone whose sensibilities overlapped with mine," says Braff.

He also hit it off well with Carole Rothman, Second Stage's artistic director — so well she pretty much got first call on All New People. "What happened was, I had been writing this play before, during and after Trust, and I really liked Carole and her taste. When I thought the play was good enough to at least show to people, I showed it to Carole, and she and Chris Burney, her right-hand man, really responded to it. It just felt like a no-brainer since I feel like Second Stage is a home for me."

You'd not suspect it from "Scrubs," but Braff comes from Shakespearean roots. George C. Wolfe gave him his first stage work – in Macbeth and Twelfth Night — and Braff, in turn, hired Wolfe for his first film, to play the restaurant manager in Garden State who flies off the handle and fires him.

Braff's new flick, "The High Cost of Living," is proof he got out of New Jersey and even into Canada, checking his comic skills at the border to play a hit-and-run drug-dealer befriending his pregnant victim. "I'm a one-man promotion machine for that little movie because I'm drawn to great writing. I don't care if it's a tiny indie in Montreal for no money or an Off-Broadway show at a non-profit theatre or a big huge studio movie. As long as it's something I can relate to and feel I'd be moved by it — that it would entertain me, whether it's a comedy or a drama — I say to myself when I read something, 'Would I want to see this movie?' And that's where I go."

And for his next play? It's not the breakthrough (rather "break-free") we were hoping for: "What I'm writing now takes place in both New Jersey and Manhattan." Well, it's progress.

More than 100 missing when riverboat sinks in Russia – NYPOST.com

MOSCOW — Emergency officials say that 102 people, including dozens of children, are missing and at least one is dead after a passenger boat with over 180 people onboard sank in the Volga River on Sunday.

The double-decker vessel went down some 2 miles away from the nearest bank in the giant Kuibyshev reservoir on the Volga River some 450 miles 750 kilometers east of Moscow, the Tatarstan region emergency ministry said. The depth at the site was 65.62 feet, it said.

The spokeswoman for Emergencies Ministry in Moscow, Irina Andrianova said there were 135 passengers and 47 crew onboard when the double-decker went down.

AP Families and friends await the arrival of the Arabella riverboat with dozens of survivors of a shipwreck in Kazan, on the Volga River. Over 100 remain missing.

Authorities say a riverboat rescued some 75 passengers, while a lifeless body of an unidentified woman and one injured man were sent to a hospital.

Other ships did not stop to pick up people, a survivor said.

“Two ships did not stop, although we waved our hands,” the survivor, a man in his 40s who arrived on the riverboat told Russia’s Vesti 24 television as he stood amid weeping passengers, some of them wrapped in blankets.

Vesti 24 quoted another survivor as saying that the boat sank “tilted to the right and sank within minutes.”

Some 30 children gathered in one of the cockpits minutes before the sinking, another survivor told the Interfax news agency.

Emergency teams and divers from neighboring regions rushed to the site of the tragedy, and Tatarstan’s leader Rustam Minnikhanov interrupted his vacation to return to the region.

Earlier, officials said 15 people were missing. It was unclear what caused the discrepancy in the accounts.

An Emergencies Ministry official in Moscow reported a somewhat lower figure. The spokeswoman for the ministry Irina Andrianova said in televised remarks that “the fates of 96 people remain unknown.”

The Volga, Europe’s largest river in terms of length and discharge, is up to 30 kilometers 19 miles wide. The river is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer months. Most of Russia’s largest cities are located in the Volga River basin.

The boat, called Bulgaria, was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia and belongs to a local tourism company. It was going to the regional capital, Kazan from the town of Bulgar.

A tourism expert said the lack of partitions inside the Bulgaria made it vulnerable to breaches.

“It case of an accident these ships sink within minutes,” Dmitri Voropayev, head of the Samara Travel company told the Ria Novosti news agency.

Russia’s Union of Tourism Industry said the ship had not been inspected and retrofitted for years, the Interfax news agency said.

Rescue boats search the Volga River for survivors. While about 75 were saved, more than 100 are missing.

Atlanta Printmakers Studio takes care of some Pressing Matters 

The presses are running at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio. At 10 in the morning, APS executive director Kathy Garrou casually pumps her foot on the pedal of one of the studio’s antique letterpresses and the massive century-old, cast-iron machine glides into motion like it was built yesterday. The letterpress is a quiet but intimidating tool, hardly making a sound as it moves in a swift dance of spinning wheels and rhythmic repetition that recalls a time when factories were filled with Rube Goldberg-like contraptions rather than the slick, streamlined and sterile machines of today. Imagine the virtual tools of Adobe Photoshop exploded into a physical, hands-on space that feels equal parts urban bohemia and Charles Dickens-era factory and you’ve got the Atlanta Printmakers Studio.

Most of the antiquated presses and tools in the sprawling Metropolitan Avenue warehouse space were donated by businesses that could no longer turn a profit using the out-of-date machines. Yet, as a new group exhibition at Gwinnett’s Hudgens Center for the Arts plainly shows, APS is attracting artists whose work is anything but antiquated. Pressing Matters: Atlanta Printmakers Studio Annual Members Exhibition reveals an environment of cross-pollinating disciplines, styles, and printmaking techniques applied to works that range from minimalist typeset prints to complex combinations of collage, screen printing and painting.

Since opening the studio in 2006, the letterpresses have functioned as something like a gateway drug for new printmakers. As Garrou explains, “We have people who come in who have never done any printmaking before — maybe they have an accounting background — but they have an interest in letterpress and want to learn that. People at that level start by taking a class and a lot of the people who take the letterpress class then follow through by becoming a renter.”

The letterpresses are hardly the only resource or reason that artists are drawn to APS, though. Behind Garrou, two fresh-faced interns are busy cleaning an array of oddly shaped tools with mineral spirits. APS’ quarterly internship program allows interns to earn college credit while also getting access and experience with the studio’s resources, which include everything from an etching press to bookbinding frames to hand rollers to a screen exposure unit and power sprayer.

That diversity of techniques is evident in Pressing Matters. Hannah Skoonberg’s subtle, fragile-looking print “Devotional” creates an expressive, spiritual vision out of a single black and leafless tree. Joey Hannaford’s minimalist typeset prints evoke the clean lines and carefully balanced colors common in graphic design but are nicely textured by the imprecision of hand printing. Richard Gere, SCAD professor and APS board member, lets a variety of techniques and textures run free in his chaotic, colorful works. Not all of the exhibit’s work is great — the show includes some artists that are clearly just beginning to explore printmaking techniques — but that diversity of talent is an expression of the studio’s openness to all levels of artists.

Stacie Uhinck Rose’s works are a highlight of Pressing Matters. Rose’s paintings subtly incorporate screen-printing into spatially disoriented compositions of gestural brushwork and collage. Rose relocated to Atlanta from San Francisco a few years ago and only started working with APS in the last six months.

Standing in the studio with Garrou, Rose says that part of APS’ draw is getting away from the isolation of her home studio. “When I lived in San Francisco, I worked in a warehouse with other artists. It naturally occurred that I met other artists and gallery people. My studio is attached to my house now, so I don’t have that social quality there,” says Rose.

The interaction with other artists at APS has created new opportunities for Rose to expand her practice. “One of the other artists here who is also a painter, Terri Dilling, gave me a monoprinting tutorial, showed me how to use that press and gave me some good advice. So now I’m planning on some work with mixed media monoprint drawings on paper,” says Rose.

Though Rose is taking her exploration of the studio’s resources slowly, she’s already deeply engaged with the conceptual implications of using printmaking in her paintings. “The expressive gestural movement of the scribble, then taking it and making it a repetitive image — that has a lot to with memory and the quality of memory and how we perceive the past in a time-space way,” she says. “The unusual spatial qualities of coming forward and going back, the way we place things in our recollections. I’m still exploring that.”

Rose’s experience exemplifies the collaborative creative environment APS can foster. Pressing Matters‘ most compelling artworks reveal a similar willingness to experiment with technique. The standout works from Rose, Skoonberg, and others share a subtle but integral use of printmaking to buttress a larger, separate artistic vision. The Atlanta Printmakers’ Studio’s myriad presses, bulky, cast iron and foreboding, are the sort of resources that rarely make it into the home studios of working artists, but the artists in Pressing Matters seem to be right at home in their work.

Scholarship gives 12-year old chance at weight loss » Local News » MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

— Like many kids, Kobe Howard is going to camp this summer. But it’s not just any camp. Kobe won a scholarship to attend a summer weight-loss camp for young people. Kobe, 12, has struggled with obesity since a knee injury brought a stop to all his athletic activities. He’s also suffered verbal cruelty at school because of his weight. But he said the upcoming trip to Camp Shane has lifted his spirits. “I just can’t wait for it,” Kobe said. “I keep going back to their YouTube page.” Located in the Catskill Mountains area in New York state, Camp Shane is a weight loss camp for teens, kids and young adults. Camp Shane has been spotlighted on MTV, the Dr. Phil Show and The Tyra Banks Show. Oprah Winfrey sent a group of “Oprah Kids” to the camp. Kobe probably wouldn’t have had this chance were it not for his mother, Brandy Howard. Howard, a nursing student and a single mom with three kids, said about four years ago, Kobe was playing on a trampoline and injured his right knee. The kneecap was pushed around to the side of his leg, stretching a ligament far beyond what it is designed for. Kobe had one surgery, but it didn’t help. His doctor said he would have to be older for the surgery to work. Kobe had been active in basketball, baseball, football and riding his bike. The injury restricted his world to a sedentary lifestyle at home. That’s when he went from 130 pounds to 250. It was also the beginning of his social problems at Hilldale Middle School. “Some of the kids were calling him fat,” Brandy Howard said. “There were days he didn’t want lunch money, didn’t want to eat lunch.” The smile on Kobe’s face faded. “That was not a good time for me,” he said. “Everyone was getting me down.” As the verbal harassment increased, Kobe’s state of mind began to darken. “We were concerned about some negative posts he put on Facebook,” Howard said. “One said, ‘If I were to die in the hallway, no one would notice me.’ As a mother, you try to fix it. I wanted to do anything to help him. I scoured the Internet. That’s when I saw Camp Shane.” The program includes extensive diet information and physical fitness. Activities include arts and crafts, swimming, performing arts, sports, eco adventure, dance classes and horseback riding. But then, Howard saw the price tag: $8,400. She didn’t have enough money. She kept digging through the website and found the Nikki Blonsky Scholarship. Blonsky is the star of a comedy family TV show on ABC called “Huge” who has been supporting Camp Shane. All Kobe had to do was submit an essay explaining why he wanted and needed the scholarship. “I told him, you write to them,” she said. One day, Kobe got a call. “Around the end of February or March, they called me and said the head lady will call you back in 30 minutes; can you put it on speakerphone?” he said. “Then, Nikki came on and said she actually didn’t have any questions. She said that ‘Out of hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, I kept going back to yours.’” Kobe will leave June 22 for a nine-week stay at the camp and return Aug. 20. He has high hopes for what he can accomplish. “Well, weight-wise, obviously, when I come back I’ll most likely want to be changing my eating habits,” he said. “Maybe I could get up to a loss of 60 to 65 pounds.” When Brandy Howard said that might be too ambitious, Kobe lowered his voice to a very gentle tone. “One hundred pounds is possible in nine weeks, mother. You never know.” Reach Keith Purtell at (918) 684-2925 or .

Lockout impact: NFL’s labor unrest is a harsh reality for fantasy football companies

LAS VEGAS – The NFL lockout has led Bruce Taylor to take some painful steps: He has scrapped publication of a fantasy football magazine that sold 161,000 copies last year, laid off an employee and took out a home equity loan.

Although players and owners are still trying to figure out how to divide $9.3 billion in revenue and save the regular season, it’s already too late for some of those who make their living from the widely popular fantasy football industry.

Usually by now, thousands of the estimated 24 million people who play fantasy football each year have already begun preparing for their leagues of made-up teams, with fortunes resting on real-life individual performances of their favorite NFL stars.

But as NFL franchises and players skip offseason workouts and free agents go unsigned amid the labor unrest, companies that depend on fans poring over statistics and incremental personnel moves to form their fantasy teams have had to cope with the reality of lost revenue.

The fantasy football industry brings in about $800 million a year. While everyone involved hopes that most of that money will still be there if the NFL resolves its labor dispute, some — including magazines that help fantasy players select their teams — are already declaring 2011 a lost year.

"We’ll be lucky if we make one-third of what we make in a normal year," said Taylor, the 46-year-old co-owner of Seattle-based Fantasy Index Magazine, Inc., which is not publishing its Fantasy Football Index magazine for the first time in 25 years.

"It’s tough because we’ve had to lay somebody off — I’ve got another employee that I should lay off but I don’t have the heart. We’re a small company," Taylor told The Associated Press. "I try and be philosophical about it because when you hitch your wagon to somebody else’s horse, you’re going to take your lumps."

"It’s a lot of money — they should fight over it — but I wish they’d fight over it faster," he said.

About 32 million people in the United States and Canada play fantasy sports each year, a number that has grown 60 percent in the last four years, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll commissioned by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the industry’s largest trade group.

In fantasy sports, participants assemble teams made up of real players and gauge success on how well those players perform in actual games, sometimes putting money on the line against their opponents. Football is by far the most popular fantasy sport, though players participate in leagues year-round for many sports.

The pastime’s popularity has become far more visible recently, with high profile players like Maurice Jones-Drew bragging about drafting themselves, a cable sitcom called "The League" that follows friends playing together, and an entire pregame show on ESPN dedicated to fantasy roster decisions.

Paul Charchian, the trade group’s president, said companies aren’t as jittery now as they will be in August without a resolution (although the NFL and its players are working this week to come to an agreement). Even now, Charchian says, they are already starting to see lost business.

"It’s still June, but normally right now, revenue is already starting for the football season," he said. "Once hockey and basketball end, a lot of people start turning their attention to football."

Charchian said his company, LeagueSafe, which lets fantasy owners pay league fees online, has seen less than half the revenue so far this year than it had collected at the same point last year.

Taylor said his company is down to the equivalent of four full-time employees from six last year, with one layoff and another unfilled vacancy.

To keep Fantasy Index operating, Taylor and his business partner took out home equity loans a few weeks ago, he said.

"If we crash the ship into the rocks, we can at least have lines of credit to get it afloat again," Taylor said.

Charchian said the industry has about 150 companies, including 15 publishers printing 25 magazines. Most are not printing this year, including those run by larger companies, including ESPN, he said.

CBSSports.com, an online arm of the CBS television network, has begun offering fans partial or full refunds depending on how many games are played this season.

One possible result of the lockout is that the NFL could play a shortened season. That would throw off fantasy leagues, which usually schedule playoffs that coincide with the final games of the NFL’s regular season.

The offer from CBS Sports promises players a prorated refund of league fees if games go unplayed, with a full refund if more than half the season is lost. A spokesman for CBS Sports declined comment.

Charchian said nearly all fantasy sports companies have been adjusting to try to keep players from hesitating to organize leagues.

"Companies don’t necessarily want to say, ‘Were not taking any money right now,’" Charchian said. "They’d rather take the money and then offer a refund."

Two tornado-damaged homes go up in flames » Local News » The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin fire crews responded to a fire that quickly engulfed the remnants of two homes in the middle of the tornado destruction. The Joplin Fire Department received the call at 2:47 p.m. Saturday. When firefighters arrived, they discovered two houses, at 2302 and 2304 S. Pennsylvania Ave., fully engulfed by flame and smoke. The department reported that due to a strong southerly wind, the fire jumped 23rd Street and ignited two more houses on the 2200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Embers from the blaze also ignited a fire at 2116 Pennsylvania Ave. All three secondary fires were quickly extinguished. Five Joplin fire units and 22 firefighters battled the blaze for over an hour in 90-degree temperatures before it was fully extinguished. Both homes at 2302 and 2304 S. Pennsylvania Ave. were burned to the ground. All of the affected structures were vacant at the time of the fire due to severe storm damage. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

NBA DRAFT: Cavs take Duke’s Irving with first pick

NEWARK, N.J.  — Kyrie Irving traveled just a few miles down the road to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.The players that followed him came from across the globe.The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Irving with the No. 1 pick in a draft filled with internationals, confident his foot is healthy enough to lead the rebuilding effort that follows LeBron James’ departure.Loudly cheered by family and friends not far from where he starred at St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, Irving showed no signs of the toe injury on his right foot that limited him to 11 games last season as he walked up the stairs to shake hands with Commissioner David Stern."I didn’t have any doubts about going to No. 1. I was looking to the organization to pick who they felt was the right choice," Irving said. "But now to this moment, from being a fan of the NBA draft and now being drafted, it’s a special feeling in my heart and knowing that my friends and family were together, it’s a memory I’m going to remember for the rest of my life."Three of the first six players taken were from Europe, capitalizing on the absence of some American college players who might have gone in their spots and made this a stronger draft. It was the first time four international players who didn’t play at a U.S. college were selected in the lottery.Even Irving has international ties. He was born in Australia while his father, Drederick, played professionally there and said he might be interested in playing for the Australian national team.After grabbing him with their first No. 1 pick since taking James in 2003, the Cavs used the No. 4 selection on Texas forward Tristan Thompson. They were the first team since the 1983 Houston Rockets with two top-four picks.The Minnesota Timberwolves took Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. The Utah Jazz then took Turkish big man Enes Kanter third with their first of two lottery selections.The league’s uncertain labor situation hung over the draft, and likely weakened it. Potential top-10 picks such as Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Harrison Barnes were among those who decided to stay in school, without knowing when their rookie seasons would have started.Stern, who could lock out his players next week if a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached, was booed when he came onto the stage at the Prudential Center, which is hosting the draft while its usual home, Madison Square Garden, is undergoing summer work.New Yorkers made the trip across the river to join the sellout crowd of 8,417, cheering loudly when Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were taken in the top 10 and booing when the Knicks made Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert the No. 17 selection.The draft was filled with question marks, with a number of unknown European players expected to go in the first round. Kanter hasn’t played competitively in a year, forced to sit out last season at Kentucky after being ruled ineligible for being paid to play in Turkey.Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas went fifth to Toronto and Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic was taken sixth by Washington."Basketball in my country is not so popular, but after this night, I think — I hope — that the basketball will be more popular," Vesely said. "I will do my best to help that."Bismack Biyombo of Congo went seventh as one of six international players who went in the first round, three short of the record set in 2003. The 18-year-old forward moved to Charlotte as part of a three-way deal agreed to earlier that also included Milwaukee and ended with Fredette in Sacramento.Kentucky’s Brandon Knight went eighth to Detroit as common fans finally heard a name they recognized again. He was followed by Walker of national champion Connecticut to Charlotte and NCAA scoring champion Fredette of BYU — both New Yorkers who were loudly cheered after their names were called. Walker, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, wiped away tears on the draft stage."It’s been like a movie. This whole year has been magical, honestly," Walker said. "So many different, crazy things have been happening to me, and you know, I just feel lucky."Irving became the third point guard taken first in the last four years, following Derrick Rose in 2008 and John Wall last year. Rose was the NBA’s MVP this season, ending James’ two-year reign.Irving insists he’s not trying to replace James — whose highlights were booed when showed on the overhead screen — in a different manner now."I’m looking forward to getting to Cleveland," Irving said. "It’s a big sports town and I cannot wait to embrace all of the fans there and the fan support. I can’t wait."Kansas twins Markieff and Marcus Morris went with back-to-back picks to round out the lottery. Phoenix took Markieff at No. 13 and Marcus followed to the Rockets.Indiana took San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard at No. 15 and traded his rights to San Antonio for former IUPUI star George Hill. That started a number of trades at the bottom of the first round, including a Houston-Minnesota swap that sent the Timberwolves’ Jonny Flynn to the Rockets in a deal that included Brad Miller, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

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