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MORNING PREP - MORNING PREP - MORNING PREP - MORNING PREP

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! COOLER COPY !

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''BARNEY BLOWOUT" ISSUES

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — The chaos at the University of Massachusetts this weekend during a pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration brought new attention to the old problem of how colleges deal with alcohol-fueled revelers during the March festivities.

Celebrations near the UMass campus in Amherst spiraled out of control Saturday as police dealt with thousands of drunken and unruly people during the annual "Blarney Blowout." More than 70 people were arrested and four officers suffered minor injuries.

UMass and Amherst officials took action like other colleges and towns to try to prevent problems. The university warned students last week about an increased police presence and Amherst police prepared for large-scale disturbances.

Colleges around the country have gone on high alert around St. Patrick's Day.

YOUTH HOCKEY CHARGED AFTER USHERING PLAYER OFF ICE

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut youth hockey referee faces a breach-of-peace charge after he ejected a player from a game and personally escorted him off the ice, angering many parents and players.

Police were called to the Champions Skating Center in Cromwell on Saturday by onlookers worried the game for 13- and 14-year-olds was getting out of control.

Police say the 55-year-old referee, Stephen Levins of Rocky Hill, called a match penalty and ejected a player from the game. They say the referee then went near the team's bench to physically escort the player off the ice.

Authorities say teammates and parents took offense to the physical contact and tried to confront the referee.

Levins also faces a charge of risking injury to a minor.

MONTANA ZOO CLOSED DUE TO FLOODING

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — It's a story that involves flooding, lots of animals. But no ark. ZooMontana in Billings was closed yesterday because of flooding. Director Jeff Ewelt tells the Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ir9eBf) that none of the animal houses are in danger.

He says the zoo has contingency plans to move the animals if needed.

Musselshell County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Jeff Gates says rivers are above flood stage and he expects the water to get higher.

ROUTE 66 PRESERVATIONS EFFORTS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — After decades of attempts to preserve portions of the old Mother Road, U.S. Route 66, comes an effort to preserve landmarks from the landscape: vintage advertising that touted everything from long-gone motels to car dealers to shaving cream.

Vintage signs are arriving one-by-one at Superior Neon, a sign company near the Oklahoma Capitol that is acting as a quasi-headquarters for organizers of the Billboard Museum, a proposed memorial to historic billboards, signs and advertising from all over the country, including those that once lined Route 66 in Oklahoma. Supporters are amid fundraising and have set up a new Web site to tout the proposed museum.

Kathy Anderson, president of the nonprofit Billboard Museum Association Inc., and others envision the Billboard Museum as an educational and immersive museum along Route 66 that will house and display unique art and ads dating back to the late 1800s.

MORE OF US ON TRAINS, BUSES, SUBWAYS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming.

The American Public Transportation Association says last year, there were nearly 10.7 billion trips taken — the highest total since 1956.

Transit ridership has now fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored following economy-driven cutbacks, the numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

Expanding bus and train networks help spur the growth, as does the nation's urban shift.

Among the cities with the largest growth: New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, Denver and San Diego.

ONE OF "BAND OF BROTHERS" DIES

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — William "Wild Bill" Guarnere (gahr-NAYR'), one of the World War II veterans whose exploits were dramatized in the TV miniseries "Band of Brothers," has died.

His son confirms his father died Saturday night at a Philadelphia hospital after a ruptured aneurysm. He was 90.

The HBO miniseries was based on a book by Stephen Ambrose and followed the members of Easy Company from training in Georgia in 1942 through the war's end in 1945. Guarnere's combat exploits earned him the nickname Wild Bill and he lost a leg trying to help a wounded solider.

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