- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

ALASKA

Weather eases for shipwreck cleanup

ANCHORAGE — With the weather improving yesterday, the Coast Guard planned for a helicopter to lower a salvage team to a soybean freighter that broke in two off Alaska — a key step toward cleaning up a destructive, oily mess stretching for miles.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Darrel Wilson said waves yesterday were 14 to 16 feet high and winds had eased to about 30 knots, milder than the 24-foot waves and 50-knot winds that pounded the ship, Selendang Ayu, on Saturday.

Authorities must get on board to determine how much of the 440,000 gallons of bunker oil and 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel had leaked.

MINNESOTA

Nurse in flu shot scare says she’s innocent

MINNEAPOLIS — A nurse who caused a scare at a Minnesota college by selling flu shots at what the school called an unauthorized clinic said yesterday that she had permission from an administrator to be there.

Michelle Torgerson, 33, said she sold vaccine left over from clinics she had run and maintained the vaccine was wholesome and that she did not dilute it.

She said she called the press conference yesterday because she wanted to explain what happened at Augsburg College two weeks ago, when about three dozen students and staff received flu shots from her.

She caused concern at the Minneapolis college when officials said she abruptly left the campus after someone questioned her credentials.

ARIZONA

Fire breaks out on TV movie set

TUCSON — Fire broke out on the set while a television movie was being filmed at the Tucson Convention Center, injuring five persons and forcing the evacuation of thousands arriving for a concert in another part of the building.

The fire started Friday night on the set of ABC’s “Desperation,” written by horror author Stephen King.

“They were in the middle of a scene involving a mine shaft collapse,” said Deputy Fire Chief Randy Ogden.

Firefighters were trying to find film and audio footage to help determine how the blaze began, he said.

CALIFORNIA

Marine loses finger to save wedding ring

VICTORVILLE — When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he would have to sacrifice either his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the finger.

“My wife is the strongest woman I know. She’s basically running two people’s lives since I’ve been gone. I don’t think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful … how much I love my wife, my soul mate,” he said.

The 19-year-old former high school football star suffered a mangled left hand and serious wounds to the legs in a Nov. 13 firefight in Fallujah.

With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.

Cpl. Battle, who is recovering at his parents’ home in this desert city, hopes to return to the Marines eventually, and to replace his wedding ring.

CONNECTICUT

Official won’t shake hands in flu season

SOUTHBURY — No matter what the deal, don’t expect this city official to shake on it.

First Selectman Mark Cooper held a press conference last week to announce that he won’t be shaking hands with anyone until flu season is over sometime next year.

Mr. Cooper said that if anyone offers his or her hand, he will decline politely and give them a brochure on how to stay healthy this winter. He said he wants to set an example by limiting his contact with people.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommends that people sneeze into their hands because that makes it easier to spread germs. People should sneeze into the crux of their elbow or a tissue, health officials say.

DELAWARE

Dredging turns up centuries-old items

LEWES — Visitors to a newly rebuilt beach near Roosevelt Inlet have been finding hundreds of artifacts that could be more than 300 years old. The items were dredged from the bottom of the Delaware Bay.

It’s not known whether the artifacts were from a shipwreck or an early Colonial settlement submerged by erosion. State officials have closed the beach for a detailed survey.

FLORIDA

Woman accused of strangling dog

PORT ST. LUCIE — A woman here is accused of strangling a neighbor’s Rottweiler after it attacked her Yorkshire terrier.

Rox, a year-old, 130-pound Rottweiler, bolted past owner Rebecca Hartley and grabbed Candy, a tiny Yorkie owned by Robin Bush, in her mouth Wednesday evening, the Port St. Lucie News said Friday.

Miss Hartley said she had been trying to calm her dog, but that Miss Bush twisted his collar with one hand, had her other hand on Rox’s snout and repeatedly struck the dog until it died.

The Yorkie was not seriously injured, officials said.

Police were investigating and will decide whether Miss Bush will be charged.

HAWAII

Judge drops hospital from federal oversight

HONOLULU — A federal judge last week ended 13 years of court oversight of the Hawaii State Hospital, saying changes made at the state’s mental- health facility are “astonishing.”

U.S. District Judge David Ezra accepted a recommendation that a 1991 civil lawsuit against the hospital be dismissed.

The lawsuit said the hospital was overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary. But since then the state has made improvements to the hospital and to the staffing and level of care for the patients.

Judge Ezra said there was no comparison between what he saw during a tour last week and what he saw a decade ago. Then, he saw some patients lying in their own urine and feces and some running around naked, he recalled.

IOWA

Priest shortage leads churches to unite

LE MARS — A shortage of priests will force six Roman Catholic churches to consolidate into one central parish in Le Mars. The six would close after the construction of a church that might seat 1,000.

All four priests serving the churches have endorsed the proposal. The consolidation allows for two priests to serve the new parish.

MASSACHUSETTS

Christie’s to auction Hawthorne manuscript

NATICK — The town’s historical society hopes to make more than $250,000 this week by auctioning the oldest known copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” — not bad for a manuscript that spent more than a century in a drawer before someone recognized its significance.

A relative of Hawthorne’s donated the corrected page proofs in 1886 to the organization that became the Natick Historical Society. The pages are covered with more than 700 proofreading corrections and comments, many thought to be in Hawthorne’s own hand.

The gift spent the next 118 years in a drawer, until trustee Roger Casavant came across the manuscript earlier this year while cataloguing the society’s collections and identified it as the oldest existing copy of “The Scarlet Letter.”

“This is unique. No other proof pages of any of Hawthorne’s novels or stories survive,” said Chris Coover, senior specialist in rare books and manuscripts at Christie’s in New York, which will auction it Thursday with 17 other rare documents belonging to the historical society.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Suspect charged in burger case

ROCHESTER — It may be the first documented case of “multitasking rage.” Police say Tony Carr got angry with a clerk last month because he wanted to pay for his burger while he was microwaving it at a convenience store.

The clerk, Scott Litzenberger, told Mr. Carr that he had to bring the burger to the counter, police said. The two apparently exchanged words, and Mr. Carr shoved the steaming patty into the clerk’s face, burning his face and eye, police Sgt. Anthony Triano said.

Mr. Carr, 37, of Berwick, Maine, turned himself in Wednesday. He was charged with simple assault and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, and released on $5,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 3.

TEXAS

Centenarian awarded divinity degree

FORT WORTH — When Eugene Florence wanted to become a preacher in the 1940s, he had to attend seminary at night because black students weren’t allowed to take day classes.

On Friday, 53 years after Mr. Florence graduated with a theology degree, the 100-year-old was awarded a master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Officials said they were correcting the injustice he endured at the then-segregated institution.

“There’s no way the seminary could go back and atone for all of its mistakes,” said Paige Patterson, the seminary’s president. “But we could do at least one thing to say … we’re sorry for where we got it wrong.”

WYOMING

Residency programs can’t afford top picks

CHEYENNE — The University of Wyoming’s family practice residency programs in Casper and Cheyenne are losing $1 million a year and do not offer high enough pay to attract top-quality applicants, school President Philip Dubois told a legislative committee.

Mr. Dubois is asking lawmakers for about $2.5 million to help the programs.

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