- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2003

NEVADA

Crickets swarm across the West

PALOMINO VALLEY — Swarms of Mormon crickets are marching across the West, destroying rangeland and crops, making highways slick with their carcasses and leaving residents disgusted in their wake.

“It’s yucky,” said Amy Nisbet of Elko. “You drive down the street and they pop like bubble wrap.”

Mild winters and three years of drought have provided ideal conditions for the 2-inch-long creeping insects, and this year’s infestation in Nevada, Utah and Idaho could be the worst in decades. Five million acres in Nevada have been infested.

OREGON

Search ends for last missing boaters

GARIBALDI — All eight survivors among the 19 persons thrown into the ocean when a wave capsized their small charter fishing boat were wearing the vessel’s bright orange life vests, authorities said yesterday. None of the nine confirmed dead was wearing a vest.

The search for the two men still missing — Tim Albus of Madras and Barry Sundberg of Cheney, Wash. — was called off yesterday morning.

National Transportation Safety Board official John Goglia told reporters investigators would examine the condition of the ocean when the 32-foot-long boat set out Saturday, and he questioned the size of the Taki Tooo.

“If the surf was worse yesterday than it is today, I would have some issues going out in a boat this size,” Mr. Goglia said. “But that may be my personal fear.”

ALABAMA

Two men sentenced for cross-burning

HUNTSVILLE — Two white men have been sentenced to 8 and 11 years in prison for burning a cross in the yard of a white woman whose black friends visited her at home.

Michael Allen White, 21, and Benjamin Michael Sloan, 20, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and intimidation and were sentenced last week. Co-defendant Lee Wayne Bray, 20, was sentenced last month to six years in prison. He said the cross-burning was a drunken prank.

Authorities said the men burned the cross at the home of Rhonda Kay Lyle last summer and smashed windows and a glass door with a shovel. Mrs. Lyle and her two children moved out the next day.

ARIZONA

Board member faults renaming of peak

MESA — A state board should reconsider its decision to rename an Arizona mountain for the only American servicewoman killed in Iraq, said a board member who thinks the decision came too soon after her death.

Tim Norton was absent April 17 when the Arizona Geographic and Historic Names Board voted to rename Squaw Peak in honor of Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian from northern Arizona.

Mr. Norton and Lloyd Clark, the only board member who voted “no,” said the state should adhere to federal policy, which requires names of dead people can be used on geographic features only after five years have elasped since their passing away.

CALIFORNIA

Peterson getting fan mail in jail

MODESTO — Scott Peterson, charged in the killing of his pregnant wife and their unborn child, is receiving stacks of letters in jail, many of them from admiring women, a newspaper reported yesterday.

A fellow inmate told the Modesto Bee that Mr. Peterson’s correspondents include a woman serving time for murdering her husband. A guard read the letter aloud, inmate Chris Young said.

Mr. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to double-murder charges that could result in his execution.

COLORADO

Rescuers find child’s remains

FORT COLLINS — Searchers found what appeared to be the remains of a small child Saturday, about 150 feet from a hiking trail where the tattered clothes of a boy missing since 1999 were recently discovered.

The county coroner was examining the remains to determine whether they belong to Jaryd Atadero, who was 3 years old when he vanished while hiking in the area with a church group. Officials have said the boy may have been dragged up a hillside by a mountain lion.

The boy’s father, Allyn Atadero, said part of a skull had been found underneath a log and a molar was atop the log.

“I can go home now, look up to the heavens and be excited that my son is there,” Mr. Atadero told KMGH-TV, “instead of looking up to the heavens and questioning where he is.”

FLORIDA

8 Cuban refugees found on beach

HOLLYWOOD — Eight Cubans were spotted on the beach yesterday and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, officials said.

Officers recovered a 19-foot boat and believe the seven men and one woman may have been smuggled to shore, although that was still under investigation.

Under U.S. policy, Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil can generally stay, while those intercepted at sea are usually returned to the communist-run island.

IOWA

Town to hold goat races

MYSTIC — This dwindling Iowa town is hoping goat races will revive its Independence Day celebration.

The clatter of hoofs on the brick main street will be heard July 5 during the first Mystic Goat Races.

Once a bustling coal town of 3,000 people, near the Missouri border, it now has about 600 residents. Gone are the stores, its school and many of the town’s homes. Also gone are the crowds that once filled Mystic’s streets for the Fourth of July celebration.

The Mystic Booster Club hopes to revive those days this year with a parade, Mystic Queen pageant, live music and the goat race. There also will be a celebrity goat race, featuring the county sheriff, the dean of the local community college and several local business people.

KENTUCKY

Child swept away by floodwaters

IRVINE — A 6-year-old girl was swept away during the weekend when floodwaters forced the car she was riding in down an eastern Kentucky creek.

The two adults in the car, including the girl’s mother, were able to escape. Victoria Yarber, 38, of Ravenna, and Fred Healy, 76, were attempting to cross Drowning Creek on a bridge Saturday afternoon when the car was swept away, said Wallace Taylor, judge-executive for Estill County.

MASSACHUSETTS

Local resident buys fire tower

MOUNT WASHINGTON — Like generations of other mountain children, Orville Garrett grew up raising his eyes to the heights and the fire tower that had stood on the peak of Mount Everett for nearly a century.

So when the state took down the tower, it hadn’t used for decades — plucking it off the Berkshire summit by helicopter — and advertised the pieces on the online auction site EBay, Mr. Garrett, 38, decided to make an offer. He wound up owning a piece of local history for $510.

“It’s home. It’s part of the town,” he said. “From the time I was born, it was there.”

He also had family connections to the tower. His great uncles had all worked on the tower as fire spotters, and his uncle was the last fire lookout to be hired by Berkshire County before it turned operation of the tower over to the state.

MISSOURI

Shoplifter uses bees as diversion

SEDALIA — A shoplifter caused a buzz in a department store restroom and made off with about $60 worth of CDs, perfume, batteries and scissors.

The man released a swarm of honeybees in a Kmart restroom, creating a diversion that allowed him to escape, authorities said.

Store security spotted the man shoplifting last week and followed him to the restroom to confront him. When the worker opened the door, about 100 bees buzzed out. Store employees pulled cans of bug spray off store shelves to kill the bees. No one was stung.

NEBRASKA

Man charged in holding wife captive for 2 years

OMAHA — A man was arrested last week for locking his wife inside their house for two years and threatening to kill her if she stepped outside.

David E. Mitchell Sr., 35, was charged Friday with false imprisonment and making threats.

Police rescued the 28-year-old woman and her four children — ages 2, 3, 7 and 8 — on June 2 by pulling them out the house through a partially opened window, said spokeswoman Sgt. Cathy Cook.

Mr. Mitchell apparently kept his wife inside the house by using locks on the doors that were accessible only from the outside, and by nailing boards across the basement door, authorities said.

NEW YORK

Bomb scare delays Mass at St. Patrick’s

NEW YORK — A bomb threat delayed Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday while police searched for an explosive device, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York said.

No explosives were found, said spokesman Joseph Zwilling.

An unidentified man called the rectory about 9:30 a.m. and said he had attended the 8 a.m. Mass and had left a bomb inside, Mr. Zwilling said. Police emptied the cathedral and brought in search dogs, but found no explosives.

PENNSYLVANIA

Mayor performs 1,001st wedding

YORK — Jefferson Mayor Robb Green has performed weddings in the bed of a truck, the hall of a museum, the top of a Ferris wheel and in a junkyard.

“The only weddings I won’t do are those that involve something illegal or bungee cords,” said Mr. Green, adding that he’d prefer that couples use a religious ceremony. “But if that doesn’t meet their needs, I do not judge them.”

In Pennsylvania, mayors have the authority to officiate at weddings, and Mr. Green has used that power far more than most of his colleagues. He performed his 1,001st yesterday at the York Expo Center.

RHODE ISLAND

Assault suspects hit by own tape of punch

PROVIDENCE — A teenager is facing assault charges for a sucker punch videotaped by a friend, but the charges would not have been filed if news stations across the state hadn’t repeatedly broadcast the video.

A witness led police to the teen with the videocamera, who still had the footage in hand, but the victim was gone. With no victim, no charges would be filed. Then the local television stations got the videotape.

Ryan Browne, 21, came forward later, saying a friend had recognized him falling to the ground after a punch to the face at graduation ceremonies from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Rogerio Alves, 18, who shot the videotape, and a 17-year-old boy, were charged last week with misdemeanor assault and conspiracy.

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