- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

VERMONT

Town to vote on secession

KILLINGTON — The sign welcoming visitors to Killington heralds this ski-resort town as the heart of Vermont.

Today, though, residents will vote on whether they want the town to secede and join New Hampshire, following a simmering dispute over property taxes.

The town has spent $20,000 so far on the effort, researching the advantage of joining the state 25 miles to the east, and the potential ways to accomplish it.

At the heart of the dispute is the state’s system of financing education, which dramatically increased property taxes in communities deemed to be property wealthy.

This frustration drove Killington to challenge parts of the law in state Superior Court, a battle it won in 2002 when a judge ruled in favor of the town. Killington’s jubilation over the decision was short-lived, however. In October, the state Supreme Court overturned the ruling.

FLORIDA

Windows bearing Virgin Mary broken

CLEARWATER — Office-building windows that thousands of visitors believed bore the 60-foot tall image of the Virgin Mary were discovered broken yesterday, police said.

The three top panes that showed what appeared to be the Virgin Mary’s veiled head were destroyed, with just shards of glass remaining in the window frames.

Rosie Reed, who heads a team of six that monitors the site for Shepherds of Christ Ministries, said the damage was discovered at about 7 a.m. by someone who came to pray.

The image first appeared a week before Christmas in 1996 in what was then a home-finance office, drawing almost 500,000 visitors within weeks. The site still draws several hundred visitors every day who come to pray, leave flowers and light one of the many candles that have been left on and around a makeshift altar.

ARKANSAS

Houses rocked by explosion

LITTLE ROCK — An explosion and fire ripped through a neighborhood near Arkansas’ Capitol early yesterday, destroying a home and severely injuring a woman, police said.

The woman, Mary Post, 77, told authorities her heater was malfunctioning, officials said.

Two homes on each side of her house were heavily damaged in the blast, and houses and cars as far as two blocks away had broken windows. Firefighters were spraying smoldering flames two hours afterward.

“She was lighting her pilot light when the explosion occurred,” Assistant Fire Chief Don Kenny said. Authorities have not determined the direct cause of the blast, however.

CALIFORNIA

Blake hires new attorney

VAN NUYS — Actor Robert Blake, who has had three attorneys quit his case in his wife’s slaying, found a fourth one yesterday — a lawyer with a fondness for bow ties and a talent for winning lost causes.

Gerald Schwartzbach, 59, made his first appearance on Mr. Blake’s behalf, telling Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp that he would be there for Mr. Blake’s Sept. 9 trial.

Mr. Blake, 70, is charged with fatally shooting his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, on May 4, 2001, as she sat in his Dodge Stealth sports car in an alley behind the Studio City restaurant where they had just dined.

COLORADO

Columbine victim settles lawsuit

DENVER — The Columbine High School student whose harrowing escape from the school’s upper-level window became one of the most vivid images of the April 1999 school massacre has settled a negligence lawsuit against police, both sides said yesterday.

Patrick Ireland, 22, will receive $117,500 from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said county spokesman John Masson. As part of the out-of-court agreement, the government will not admit any liability for negligence, as the lawsuit had charged.

“It ends a tough chapter in everyone’s lives,” Mr. Masson said.

Mr. Ireland was shot in the head in the school library and later plunged out the window into the arms of officers standing on an armored car. While it appeared to be a rescue on live television, it later was determined that the two gunmen had committed suicide two hours earlier.

CONNECTICUT

Residents battle Krispy Kreme shop

NEWINGTON — Along a stretch of highway dotted with adult bookstores, gun shops and cut-rate motels, a group of residents are fighting a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop.

The small but relentless band of neighbors, which lost its bid to keep New England’s first Krispy Kreme from opening here in 2002, regrouped last month with a late-night reconnaissance campaign.

Krispy Kreme, it turned out, was selling its signature glazed confections to nearby supermarkets under the cover of night and in violation of its town permit. Neighbors caught it all on film: the truckers loading up the doughnuts and hauling them to nearby grocery stores before dawn.

HAWAII

Man drives SUV into airport

KAHULUI — A man drove a sport utility vehicle into the ticket lobby of Maui’s main airport Sunday, then set the vehicle on fire, grounding outgoing flights for hours.

No one was injured in the incident, which the FBI said was not an act of terrorism.

The man set the Dodge Durango on fire after driving it into Kahului Airport’s open-air terminal, said Lowrey Leong, the director of the Transportation Security Administration on Maui.

The man’s motivation was not known, but “there’s no reason to believe there’s a terrorism nexus,” said Pam McCullough, a spokeswoman for the FBI. “There’s no cause for alarm.”

ILLINOIS

Asthma rampant among homeless

CHICAGO — About two out of five homeless children in New York City have asthma and some go undiagnosed and untreated, researchers said yesterday.

The 40 percent rate of asthma among the estimated 9,400 children who are homeless at any one time in the nation’s largest city is six times the national rate, which has been escalating in recent decades for reasons that are unclear, the researchers said.

Some say asthma rates are climbing because the respiratory illness is diagnosed more often; others blame exposure to pollutants, worsening allergies and overuse of antibiotics.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 16 million, or about 7.5 percent of Americans, reported having asthma in 2002, up 4 percent from the previous year.

KENTUCKY

Civil rights march to be re-enacted

FRANKFORT — The 40th anniversary of the historic March on Frankfort will be commemorated this week with a re-enactment of the 1964 demonstration by Martin Luther King and 10,000 people.

The marchers’ goal was to end racial segregation in public accommodations. Two years later, Kentucky became the first Southern state to enact a civil rights law. This week’s marchers say they are concerned about the high unemployment rate among blacks in Kentucky.

MAINE

Female farmers increasing in state

LEWISTON — The number of female farmers is growing in Maine while it declines in several other states in New England, officials say.

One in three Maine farmers are female and the number of women who are principal operators of farms has grown 35 percent since 1998, according to a 2002 agricultural census.

MASSACHUSETTS

Hospitals use loans to recruit doctors

BOSTON — Some hospitals are offering housing loans as an incentive to lure top doctors to an area known for its high home prices.

In its search for a new president three years ago, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute offered a $600,000 no-interest loan for a house. Hospital officials say local housing prices are high and physicians’ salaries are below the national average.

MICHIGAN

Governor signs bill to observe Holocaust

LANSING — Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, signed legislation creating a Holocaust Remembrance Day in Michigan to honor victims, survivors, rescuers and liberators during Adolf Hitler’s regime from 1933 to 1945.

The day will fall on April 18 this year, but will rotate as it follows the Hebrew calendar, which is based on 19-year cycles.

MONTANA

TV helps identify child abuse suspect

MISSOULA — A man shown molesting a boy in a video and photographs distributed over the Internet surrendered after relatives identified him from images aired on television, authorities said yesterday.

Thomas R. Evered, a 39-year-old truck driver, was arrested Saturday night and appeared in federal court yesterday on two counts of sexually exploiting a minor.

A grand jury indicted the man shown in the images in August, but investigators did not know who he was and identified him only as “John Doe.”

The FBI asked “America’s Most Wanted” to show censored images of the suspect with the boy on Saturday’s episode, in hopes viewers might be able to identify the man.

Officials said Mr. Evered’s sister saw the program, and his mother persuaded him to surrender.

NORTH CAROLINA

Couple to serve on city council

THOMASVILLE — Matters of the heart for one couple soon will turn to discussion of zoning issues and other mundane matters.

Jim Hunter joined the Thomasville City Council yesterday, united with his wife, Sue. The Hunters are the first married couple in Thomasville to serve together on a city council.

David Lawrence, a professor at the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill, said that the relationship does not pose any legal conflicts of interest. Potential family conflicts are another matter.

NORTH DAKOTA

Money collected for returning troops

BISMARCK — The North Dakota National Guard Foundation has begun collecting money to help the more than 600 soldiers expected to return from Iraq this month. Scores more will be returning in coming months.

Organizers for the nonprofit group said they plan to offer grants to Guard families who need help in a financial crisis, such as a fire or a major illness.

OHIO

Cicadas to emerge from ground

CINCINNATI — About 5 billion cicadas are expected to emerge between May 17 and May 25 throughout the city, officials say. The bugs have spent the past 17 years inches under the ground.

The Cincinnati Park district is alerting people about the bugs when they book outdoor facilities.

The bugs are expected to be clustered west of Interstate 71, scientists said. The cicadas have a six-week life span and are harmless to humans.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Ex-governor appeals car-crash conviction

SIOUX FALLS — Former Rep. Bill Janklow appealed his manslaughter and reckless-driving convictions to the state Supreme Court yesterday, and indicated he would ask to be set free until the justices hear the case.

Janklow, 64, began serving a 100-day sentence Feb. 7 for the August crash that killed a motorcyclist. Today, his attorneys will ask a judge to release him from county jail until an appeal is heard by the Supreme Court, whose judges all were appointed by Janklow during his 16 years as governor.

In their request, Janklow’s attorneys argued that since he initially was released on his personal recognizance, state law allows the judge to put the sentence on hold until the appeal has been heard.

“Nothing has changed since the defendant’s initial appearance that makes the defendant a flight risk or a danger to any or the community if he is released pending the outcome of an appeal,” attorneys Ed Evans and Melissa Hinton wrote.

TENNESSEE

Forged checks won’t bounce

MOUNT CARMEL — A woman accused of going on a shopping spree by forging checks from a stolen pocketbook wasn’t entirely fiscally irresponsible, police said.

After all, they said, she wrote each transaction in the checkbook register.

“I guess she wanted to make sure she didn’t bounce any of the victim’s checks,” Mount Carmel Officer Will Mullins said. Police charged Debra Janan Goins with felony theft and burglary.

Miss Goins, 39, told police she stole a purse containing the checkbook from an unoccupied parked car.

TEXAS

Heavy rain blamed for two deaths

CROWLEY — Two persons, including a woman swept away by rushing water, died Sunday as heavy rain moved through North Texas.

The woman drowned after being swept away as she tried to cross a rain-swollen creek, Crowley police said. Two children with the woman were not hurt. The drowning occurred near a park in Crowley, about 10 miles south of Fort Worth.

Dive crews from the Fort Worth Fire Department found the woman’s body in a drainage pipe, Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW reported.

The rain also was blamed for a fatal car accident in the Dallas suburb of Irving. Police said a man was killed when he lost control of his car on rain-slickened Texas 114 and it slammed into a bridge column.

UTAH

Strip club co-owner sues church

SALT LAKE CITY — Daniel Darger, co-owner of a popular strip club, is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saying the church is trying to drive his business out of downtown.

The real estate arm of the Mormon church sued the city in October when the club received a license for a sexually oriented business. The church said the board wrongfully allowed the bar to operate too close to parks and schools.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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