Daily Drive Thru: Ford, Nissan see sales dips in August; industry still ahead of 2015 pace; Germany points finger at Fiat and more

The Friday of Labor Day weekend: a moment of both excitement for the long weekend ahead and somber reckoning that summer, for all intents and purposes, is coming to a close. To send you on your way to this glorious and emotionally charged weekend, I’ll leave you with some international mudslinging over diesel emissions and a pair of righteous new releases. But first, since it is the beginning of the month, you’ve gotta eat your vegetables as I break down the highlights of the monthly sales reports. This is your Friday edition of the Daily Drive-Thru. Enjoy and I’ll see you on Tuesday. Ford, Nissan see steep declines as U.S. auto sales falter in August Last month was not a strong one for U.S. auto sales as the industry as a whole saw deliveries dip by 3.6 percent compared to August 2015. Among the high-volume sellers (automakers who moved more than 100,000 vehicles last month), Ford and Nissan struggled the most, as their year-over-year sales figures dropped 8.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Toyota and General Motors both saw sales dip by roughly 5 percent, Honda sales dropped by 3.8 percent and combined sales for the Hyundai-Kia alliance dropped by 3.5 percent (for the record: Hyundai sales were roughly flat at just a hair over 72,000 both months, while Kia sales declined by nearly 8 percent from almost 59,000 in 2015 to a little more than 54,000 in 2016). Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was the only major player that saw sales increase year to year, as it moved 196,756 vehicles in 2016, a 3 percent increase from the 190,887 it sold in 2015. Source: Automotive News 2016 sales still ahead of 2015 pace, but just barely So far this year, the industry is still outpacing 2015 sales, but just by a pinch. Through eight months of 2016, 11.64 million vehicles have been sold in the U.S. this year compared to roughly 11.58 million in 2015, good for an Continue Reading

Punkin Chunkin to return in 2017 despite past incidents

Punkin Chunkin lives, event organizers said in Lewes on Saturday.Frank Payton, president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association, read from a prepared statement at the new Lewes Public Library on Feb. 11, in which he emphasized the three-decade tradition that the event has built in the area and the importance of the annual event to the community. The event will return to the Wheatley farm in 2017 in the first weekend of November."Punkin Chunkin has attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators to Delmarva since 1986," Payton said. "We are a Delaware tradition, and we have become a part of Americana."Payton said that the nonprofit organization is "passionate" about returning the bulk of the funds raised at each event to the community. He estimated that more than $1 million has been given back in the form of donations to other nonprofit organizations.An ongoing relationship with local fire departments, DelDOT and the Delaware State Police was mentioned as Payton segued into addressing speculation about the event's future."There has been a lot of speculation," he said. "The Science Channel has notified us that they will not be returning in 2017."Payton described the split as amicable, but noted that Science was a major sponsor of the event. He said that the association will talk to anyone "interested in a mutually beneficial partnership" for the 2017 event."This is too important not to continue," he said.He had no idea where or if the 2017 event will air on television.After a two-year hiatus, the 2016 Punkin Chunkin was cut short when two spectators were showered with metal debris after a cannon malfunction. A woman was critically injured.Payton had no comment when asked about the woman's condition and whether a lawsuit might result from that injury.A former event volunteer sued the venue owner in 2013 for injuries sustained in an ATV accident during Punkin Chunkin. Although the suit was eventually dismissed, the land owner immediately evicted the Continue Reading

College football spring game breakdown: What we learned last weekend

Only seven teams across the Football Bowl Subdivision have yet to complete spring drills. For the rest of college football, it’s time to look ahead to the regular season, and to maximizing the three months until fall camp resumes in late July and early August.Last week’s breakdown reviewed the springtime developments at a number of high-profile programs. Ohio State’s defense and overall depth might be the nation’s best. It might take Tom Herman some time at Texas. Southern California needs to find sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold a few receivers.The second part of our breakdown of what to take from this spring peeks at the past weekend, which includes end-of-spring games and scrimmages at Alabama, Washington, Notre Dame and Penn State, among others.What did we learn? Most of all, that those two reigning national semifinalists – the Crimson Tide and Huskies – seem poised to make another run at the College Football Playoff. First look at Alabama’s offenseSaturday’s spring game provided the first look at coordinator Brian Daboll, formerly of New England Patriots, and how the offense might look as it transitions from Lane Kiffin’s up-tempo style to what some expected to be a more traditional approach.We’ll know more about the Tide’s tempo come September. However, the spring game showed no decline in overall aggressiveness: Alabama went deep again and again with Daboll calling the shots, taking advantage of a healthy crop of receivers. But why should anyone be surprised? It’s not like recent New England teams embodied a run-first mentality, after all.Of course, this story line ran second behind the attention paid to a quarterback competition that, to be honest, doesn’t really exist. While true freshman Tua Tagovailoa looked the part of a major recruit, his snaps largely came against Alabama’s backup defense – and as Nick Saban noted, he didn’t get a first down going against Continue Reading

Harvey 2017 Live Coverage: Portland launches contractor registration process

FIND RECENT UPDATES8:15 a.m.: Portland announced it launched a contractor registration process as the town’s residents prepare to repair properties. The city also implemented permitting processes to accelerate the rebuilding process.“To help protect our residents from dishonest contractors, the city of Portland will require all contractors to register with the city before beginning any work in Portland,” the city’s website states. The city is waiving the registration fee for contractors hired to repair or build fences, as well as those hired for tree and brush removal. Contractors are required to provide their name, address and driver’s license.12:20 a.m.: The Texas Department of Transportation plans to partially reopen the surge wall on State Highway 361 in Aransas Pass beginning Monday. While conditions that may be encountered prevent specifying an exact time for the reopening, an announcement will be made when the road is reopened.Following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, TxDOT crews have been working to clear debris on 361 between the surge wall and the ferry landing on Harbor Island.On Tuesday, TxDOT will resume limited daytime operation of the Port Aransas ferry system. A single ferry will operate from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. each day.10:03 p.m.: AEP Texas crews had reduced the number of outages resulting from Hurricane Harvey to 160,000 as of 8 p.m. on Sunday. That number compares with the 220,000 consumers left without power at the peak of outages, which occurred at 2 p.m. on Saturday.Shown below is a breakdown of the areas with the highest concentration of outages.Aransas Pass – Rockport Area 46,000Corpus Christi 65,000Victoria 21,800Port Lavaca 14,000Sinton 5,000El Campo 3,400Beeville 2,400Kenedy 2,0009:11 p.m.: Corpus Christi ISD has moved its first day of school for the district to Sept. 5, Corpus Christi ISD athletic director Brenda Marshall confirmed Sunday night.Marshall said the district is still Continue Reading

Solar eclipse 2017: Businesses, cities cashing in on crowds

BARTLETT, Tenn. — Millions of eyes will be fixed on the sky when a total solar eclipse crosses the U.S. in August, and it's likely many of them will be safely behind the special glasses churned out by a Tennessee company.American Paper Optics ramped up production for this year's eclipse and expects to make 50 million paper and plastic eclipse glasses. John Jerit, the company's CEO and president, said they began preparing about two years ago. During his almost 27 years making safety glasses, he's only seen one total solar eclipse, in France in 1999, but will be going to Nashville for this one."It's a life experience," Jerit said during an interview at his company's office in the Memphis suburb of Bartlett. "When that two minutes is over, or however long you've got, the question that you really want to hear is, 'When is the next one?'" ► More: 3 eclipse tips from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the internet's favorite scientist His company is one of many businesses — hotels, campgrounds and stores — taking advantage of the total solar eclipse — when the moon passes between Earth and the sun. The moon's shadow will fall in a diagonal ribbon across the U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. The rest of the U.S. will experience a partial eclipse, along with Canada, Central America and a bit of South America.Cities and towns along the path of totality — where there will be about 2 ½ minutes of darkness — are gearing up for the crowds. St. Joseph, Missouri, population 76,000, is in a prime location and officials are bracing for tens of thousands of eclipse watchers to descend on the city, said Beth Conway, spokeswoman for the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau.The city's restaurants, gas stations and stores are preparing for the onslaught — the city's largest arts and music festival with the nickname "Total Eclipse of the Arts" is scheduled on the weekend leading up to the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21."This is Continue Reading

Solar eclipse 2017: So what’s the weather for Aug. 21 and can history be your guide?

This story has been updated to correct information about Hawaii entering the union as a state. In less than a month, a total solar eclipse will overtake the city of Nashville.The city will go dark in the middle of the day for about two minutes as the moon completely obscures the sun.As the first total solar eclipse to appear in Nashville skies since the 15th century, the event will surely go down in Nashville history.But will you be able to see it without any clouds in the sky?Locals and tourists alike are turning to weather forecasters as they prepare for the big event, which could be affected by rain, clouds, humidity or some of the extreme Tennessee heat that’s plagued the summer so far. ► More: Complete coverage of the solar eclipse “We basically only forecast eight days out, trying to figure out, most importantly, cloud cover,” said Josh Barnwell, a Nashville-based meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “The big thing is, is it going to be clear?”Since 1874, when the National Weather Service began logging Nashville temperatures, Aug. 21 has usually been dry and hot with little precipitation and an average high of 88 degrees and low of 68 degrees.While the eclipse may be too far into the future for meteorologists to forecast whether there will be cloud cover or rain, a glance through the past showcases the best and worst weather Aug. 21 has brought Music City. Plus, some interesting news that happened on Aug. 21. Aug. 21, 1911Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” stolen by former Louvre employee.The Louvre said a surprised “au revoir” to the girl wearing her famous smile after an Italian thief named Vincenzo Peruggia smuggled it under a lookalike uniform. A former employee of the palace of art, Peruggia snuck through a worker entrance and wrenched the painting from its wall. He hid the painting in his Paris apartment for two years before returning with it to Italy, where he was Continue Reading

Bruno Mars, Green Day lead August concert calendar

Acclaimed live acts Bruno Mars and Green Day will perform locally in August.Mars, who's sold more more than 13 million albums worldwide, is on tour to promote retro funk album "24K Magic." The "That's What I Like Singer" will visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Aug. 13.Green Day, a 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will visit Klipsch Music Center on Aug. 16.The month also includes a full slate of live music at the Indiana State Fair and a special arena show presented as part of the 50th edition of Gen Con.Check out our list of the top 20 concerts for August, presented in chronological order: "Retro Futura Tour" 7 p.m. Aug. 2, Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St., $29.50 to $79.50, LiveNation.com, (800) 745-3000.If John Hughes ranks among your favorite filmmakers and you poured countless quarters into a Pac-Man machine, the "Retro Futura Tour" may be the show for you. The six-pack of 1980s acts includes Howard Jones, Men Without Hats, Modern English, Paul Young, the English Beat and Katrina Leskanich (formerly of Katrina & the Waves). George Thorogood & the Destroyers 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4, Indiana State Fair Free Stage, 1202 E. 38th St., free with admission to the fair, $12 or $8 if purchased in advance, IndianaStateFair.com, (317) 927-7500.Known for 1980s songs "Bad to the Bone" and "I Drink Alone," George Thorogood will issue his first solo album — "Party of One" — on the day he visits the Indiana State Fair. The Delaware native will be accompanied by his long-running backing band, the Destroyers, at the fair. Idina Menzel 8 p.m. Aug. 4, Murat Theatre in Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St., $50.50 to $101.50, LiveNation.com, (800) 745-3000.From starring in the original Broadway version of "Rent" in 1996 to singing "Let It Go" in 2013 film "Frozen," Idina Menzel offers impressive pop-culture credentials. The Queens native is on tour to promote 2016 album "Idina." The Beach Continue Reading

Oscars 2017: ‘Moonlight’ wins best picture in a wild ending

It was like M. Night Shyamalan directing the Oscars.Two minutes after Hollywood musical La La Land was named best picture at Sunday's 89th Academy Awards, there was a twist ending: Presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty somehow got Emma Stone's best actress card instead of the right one, and it was in fact the arthouse darling Moonlight that won the night's big prize."There was a time when I thought this movie was impossible because I couldn't bring it to fruition," Moonlight director Barry Jenkins said when accepting the best picture Oscar. "I couldn't bring myself to tell another story, so everybody behind me on this stage said, 'No, that is not acceptable.' "In the ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Moonlight picked up three awards total — including adapted screenplay and supporting actor for Mahershala Ali — but La La Land's tally wasn't too shabby: It won six Oscars, including best director for Damien Chazelle — the youngest person to ever win the honor — and best actress for Emma Stone. Fences star Viola Davis and Casey Affleck of Manchester by the Sea also picked up their first Oscar wins, for supporting actress and best actor respectively.Here's a minute-by-minute (ET) breakdown of the festivities:12:09: And the musical has it: La La Land is named best picture, its seventh Oscar of the night. Or not! Faye Dunaway read the wrong movie and Moonlight is actually best picture. "Very clearly even in my dreams, this couldn't be true. But hell with it! It is true!" says director Barry Jenkins, taking the weirdness so well. "We didn't do this. You chose us. Thank you for the choice."11:57: La La Land wins its sixth Oscar and Emma Stone grabs her first one ever for best actress. "To the women in this category ... you are all so extraordinary and I look up to you and I admire you," says an out-of-breath Stone. "I still have a lot of growing and learning and work to do, and this guy is a really beautiful symbol to Continue Reading

2017 Arizona Fishing Reports

This is the Arizona fishing report from azcentral sports and The Arizona Republic.Information for the Fishing Report is periodically provided by anglers, as well as the experts at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Anglers, Liar’s Korner, Phoenix Fishing Supply, Pinetop Sporting Goods, Pro Bass Adventures, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Lake Mary Country Store, Parker Canyon Lake store, Fly Fish Arizona and Beyond and H&M Landing in San Diego. Short castAnglers should know the following Arizona winter road closures are in place, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Closures include Arizona 261 from Eager south to Crescent Lake, Arizona 273 between Sunrise Park and Big Lake, Arizona 473 to Hawley Lake and a portion of Arizona 366 to Mount Graham. Central waters BartlettAnglers are picking up 15 to 20 bass on jigs and Carolina rigs, according to reports passed on by Ted Wong at Phoenix Fishing Supply. He said the larger fish weighed approximately 2 ½ to 3 pounds. A 4 ½-pounder was caught during a recent tournament. Crappies are also being caught, however one angler said the small fish were mixed in with the larger fish Information: (602) 266-2624. RooseveltJim Goughnour of Rim Country Rods in Payson reports the fish are moving deeper as the water cools. Look for crappies at 40 feet with vertical tactics or arm a dropshot rig with a curly-tail grub. Bass also will like these tactics. The crappies are around trees, rock piles and artificial habitat. Information: (928) 468-0263. ApacheThis lake will be stocked with trout next week. Bass fishing has been slow, but jigging spoons are working on deep water bass schools. Information: (480) 986-2515 CanyonThe Tortilla campground is back in business after a recent water problem. Trout will be stocked next week. The lake continues to offer big bass to anglers who fish in the deep grass with a dropshot or shaky head rigs. Information: (480) 986-2515. Continue Reading

Letters to the Editor, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017

Protestors hijacking flag, anthem, countryAt a time when our country is plagued with distrust, deceit and dissension, the NFL has opted to deepen the divide by “hijacking” our flag, national anthem and respect for God and country.As we become lost in a morass of deception and explanations surrounding alleged social and racial injustice, the entire NFL has followed a broken, emaciated, rebellious quarterback over the cliff leading to the demise and possible destruction of professional football.Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh attempted to slow the stampede by canceling practice one day in late August. He took his team to Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon to impress upon his players that our flag and national anthem honor our veterans who have made the supreme sacrifice. Unfortunately, no other coaches or owners followed his lead and the NFL commissioner was missing in action.Fortunately for all of us Americans, our military, police, fire and emergency medical personnel have not opted to take a knee when they are dispatched to deadly deployments and life-threatening incidents hundreds of thousands of times daily within the United States and abroad. Conversely, the 32 NFL teams take the field weekly clad in every possible piece of protective gear to play a kids game.  The NFL could not have acted more cowardly over the past months during player protest of our flag and anthem. It followed the lead of a single, ill-informed, rejected and jilted football player with absolutely no leadership from its multimillionaire commissioner, Roger Goodell.   Tom Minick, Naples  Be objective or hide biasLong ago, I edited my high school newspaper, housed in the school’s basement. Because one staffer worked on weekends and discarded his cigarette butts on the concrete floor, my first task many Mondays was sweeping up the forbidden debris.Once as I was finishing, the dean of discipline appeared. He Continue Reading