CANTON, Ohio (AP) — A northeast Ohio middle school teacher whose skull was crushed by a rock dropped onto her vehicle from a Pennsylvania overpass is recovering from her sixth surgery.
Sharon Budd of Lake Township had surgery about a week before Thanksgiving Day to remove plastic skull pieces that had been protecting her brain but became contaminated, The Repository (http://bit.ly/11ADUc7 ) in Canton reported.
Her husband, Randy Budd, said she was walking, talking and in good spirits days later. And, three days after her latest hospital release, she had an extra reason to celebrate on the holiday: It was also her 53rd birthday.
She will need at least two more major surgeries, but the family remains hopeful, her husband said in a letter thanking their community and supporters that was published by the newspaper.
"The doctors continue to be amazed of her progress. ... On this Thanksgiving Day, which is also Sharon's birthday, we couldn't be more grateful!" he wrote.
Budd was riding with her husband and daughter when the 4.6-pound rock crashed through the front window and struck her head July 10. She lost her right eye, suffered brain damage and went through rehabilitation at a Danville, Pennsylvania, hospital.
Four young men were charged in the case.
One testifying under a deal with prosecutors said the defendants set out to do damage that day and laughed as they drove away from the scene after hearing the rock hit a vehicle.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — As the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide prepare to face off on the football field, the mayors of their towns have made a friendly wager.
The Opelika-Auburn News reports (http://bit.ly/1AYVzJQ ) that Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox have bet $100 on Saturday's Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. The money will be donated to a charity chosen by the winning team.
If Auburn University wins, the money will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County. If the University of Alabama wins, the money will go to the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative.
The two mayors made the same bet last year when Auburn beat Alabama 34-28.
ATLANTA (AP) — George Takei, who starred in the original "Star Trek" TV show, will be the narrator of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's "Sci-Fi Spectacular" concerts.
The special concerts are planned for 8 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
The symphony said in a news release that the concerts will feature several popular film scores, including music from "Star Wars," ''E.T.," ''Superman," ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and others.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Turkey on Friday at a sensitive moment for the Muslim nation, as it cares for 1.6 million refugees and weighs how to deal with the Islamic State group as its fighters grab chunks of Syria and Iraq across Turkey's southern border.
Francis was expected to use his opening speeches to denounce the violence being committed in God's name by the extremists, and to express solidarity with the Christians and other religious minorities who have been targeted by the onslaught, massacred or forced to leave their homes.
The pope was greeting by a line of Turkish dignitaries, headed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, as he descended the steps of his plane at Ankara's Esenboga Airport. He inspected and greeted Turkish honor guards before heading to the mausoleum of the Turkish republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, where he is scheduled to lay a wreath.
Francis paid tribute to Turkey's willingness to host so many refugees during a brief encounter with journalists aboard the papal plane, praising its humanitarian response to "so many refugees from conflict zones."
The three-day visit will give Francis a chance to reach out to Turkey's tiny Christian community — less than 1 percent of Turks are Catholic — and visit with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
Francis will tour two of Istanbul's most impressive sites, the Hagia Sofia complex — the Byzantine church-turned-mosque that is now a museum — and the nearby Sultan Ahmet mosque, Turkey's most important place of Muslim worship.
Security will be tight: Turkish media reports said some 2,700 police officers would be on duty during the Ankara leg of the trip alone, and that a court had issued an order allowing police to stop and search cars and carry out random identity checks on people along routes used by the pope.
On the eve of his trip, Francis repeated that it was legitimate to use force to stop the Islamic State advance, but only with the endorsement of the international community. Asked whether dialogue was even possible with a group that is targeting religious minorities, Francis said "Maybe you can't have a dialogue, but you must never close the door."
Francis will wade into some local controversy when he is received Friday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his huge new palace in Ankara, a 1,000-room complex on once-protected farmland and forest that dwarfs the White House and other European government palaces.
Francis, whose spartan living conditions are well-known, will spend Friday afternoon at the $620 million White Palace, meeting with the president, prime minister and delivering a speech to Turkish dignitaries and diplomatic corps.
The Vatican has dismissed a request by the Ankara branch of the Turkish Chamber of Architects to boycott the meeting, saying Francis would be received wherever the government chose to receive him.
MANCHESTER, Mo. (AP) — Dozens of people have interrupted holiday shopping at major retailers around the St. Louis area to speak out about a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.
The protests began Thanksgiving night and continued early Friday. Protesters spent a few minutes at each store, shouting inside. An officer in at least one store ordered them to leave. There was no immediate word of any arrests.
According to Johnetta Elzie, who had been tweeting and posting videos of the protests, demonstrations occurred at a Wal-Mart and Target in Brentwood, two Wal-Marts in St. Charles and one Wal-Mart in Manchester.
Other Black Friday protests are planned in Kirkwood, Missouri, and other cities.
There were no visible protests in Ferguson on Thursday night.