- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

GEORGIA

Warehouse fire forces evacuation

CONYERS — A huge fire broke out in a chemical warehouse yesterday morning, setting off multiple explosions and prompting police to evacuate residents threatened by a vast cloud of potentially toxic smoke.

The fire in the warehouse owned by Biolab, which makes chemicals for pools and cleaning products, was reported about 4:30 a.m. Multiple explosions could be seen and heard as flames spread through the warehouse.

Estimates put the number of evacuees in the hundreds, but more precise figures were not available. By late morning, more than 100 people were at two schools that were set up as shelters.

MASSACHUSETTS

Archdiocese to close 65 parishes

BOSTON — The Boston Archdiocese will lose 65 of its 357 parishes, a massive restructuring brought on partly by the clergy sex-abuse scandal that aggravated already-shrinking Mass attendance and weekly collections.

Archbishop Sean O’Malley announced the parish closings yesterday, completing a process that began in December when he said the Roman Catholic archdiocese would undergo a downsizing.

He said the reduction was needed because of declining Mass attendance, a shortage of priests and the inability of the archdiocese to support struggling parishes in the midst of financial problems caused in part by the abuse crisis.

ALABAMA

Civic center to be convention complex

MONTGOMERY — The city and the state pension system plan a joint effort to convert the aging Montgomery Civic Center into a major convention complex with a four-star hotel.

The city will provide at least $32.5 million and Retirement Systems of Alabama at least $47 million.

ALASKA

Lawsuit seeks to block passenger screenings

ANCHORAGE — New security measures aimed at preventing hijackings could result in some Alaskans unfairly being barred from flying — an essential mode of transportation in the state — according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Owners of two travel agencies and two officials with a remote school district filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Anchorage against the Transportation Security Administration, its director and the federal Department of Homeland Security, seeking to block the passenger-screening program.

The plaintiffs said the program requires airlines and travel agencies to divulge passenger telephone numbers, street addresses and other personal information to the federal government. Passengers would be ranked according to their perceived risk levels, and some might be barred from flying, the plaintiffs say.

CALIFORNIA

Ban on smoking approved for beaches

MALIBU — The City Council gave final approval Monday to an ordinance that makes it the latest municipality in Southern California to ban smoking on its beaches.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the beach smoking ban, which follows similar actions approved in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. It will go into effect in 30 days.

Mayor Sharon Barovsky, who smokes, said the ordinance is needed because of concerns about the health impact of secondhand smoke and the litter caused by cigarette butts.

COLORADO

State employees can challenge governor

DENVER — Colorado’s 33,000 state employees can challenge an order from Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, that eliminated automatic payroll deductions for union dues, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Employees claimed Mr. Owens’ order violated their rights to free speech and job security. The case was sent back to a trial court for a hearing.

ILLINOIS

Study links aspirin to reduced cancer risk

CHICAGO — Aspirin, the wonder drug that can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, also appears to reduce women’s chances of developing the most common type of breast cancer, a study found.

The authors of the study said that the findings are tantalizing but that more research is needed before doctors can recommend that women take aspirin to ward off breast cancer.

The study appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association and was led by researcher Mary Beth Terry and Dr. Alfred Neugut of Columbia University.

The reduced risk was found for tumors whose growth is fueled by the sex hormones estrogen or progesterone. Researchers suspect aspirin works by interfering with the body’s production of estrogen.

INDIANA

Confederate flag ban angers campers

MUNCIE — Confederate battle flags were banned from a city-run campground, prompting a fight between city officials and some campers.

Mayor Dan Canan said he didn’t care about complaints that the ban violated the rights of campers. “Their right is to go to another campground,” he said.

KENTUCKY

Former officer denied change of venue

LOUISVILLE — A judge yesterday refused to move the murder trial of a fired white police officer charged with fatally shooting a black teenager in the back.

McKenzie Mattingly’s attorney argued that he could not receive a fair trial in Louisville because of intense news coverage of the case. Prosecutors opposed the request to move the proceedings.

Mr. Mattingly, a former narcotics detective, is charged with murder in the shooting of 19-year-old Michael Newby outside a liquor store.

LOUISIANA

Judge booted for drunkenness

NEW ORLEANS — A Natchitoches Parish judge was kicked off the bench yesterday for flagrant and repeated drunkenness.

District Judge Monty L. Doggett issued arrest warrants when he was too drunk to read them, was sometimes so drunk that court had to be canceled and once had to be carried out of his courtroom by deputies, the Louisiana Supreme Court said in its unanimous ruling.

“Although we feel compassion for Judge Doggett’s struggle to maintain sobriety, we must, first and foremost, consider the grave implications which this misconduct casts upon the judiciary,” said the court.

Under the ruling, Mr. Doggett cannot run again for judge for at least five years. Before he can run, the Supreme Court must certify him as eligible.

MAINE

State to keep single area code

AUGUSTA — Maine will be able to maintain a single telephone area code through 2012, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator said.

Maine has the 207 area code and is one of 14 states with a single area code.

MINNESOTA

Intruder turns out to be a deer

BROOKLYN PARK — The crash of breaking glass — lots of breaking glass — startled Vicki Mohler awake in her home Monday morning.

She leapt out of bed and saw her two children safe in their rooms, but she heard footsteps on the linoleum of her kitchen floor.

When she followed the sounds of the intruder and peered into her basement, the sight brought both relief and shock: There, broadly exposed to her, was the furry hind end of a deer.

The deer quickly showed itself out of the home. It had leapt through a 2-foot-wide section of a window that was 5 feet off the ground and knocked over a lamp.

MISSISSIPPI

States to promote tourism on the Trace

TUPELO — Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee agreed to create a plan to promote tourism in towns along the scenic 444-mile Nashville-to-Natchez national parkway.

Mississippi has 310 miles of the Trace and has contributed $500,000 for promotions since 1999.

NEBRASKA

Guardsman home, waiting for wife

MINDEN — Family and friends welcomed Nebraska National Guard Sgt. B.J. Carlson home after he served more than a year in Iraq. He only wished his wife, Candace, were there.

She is a National Guard soldier, too. She was deployed to Kuwait in March and has 10 more months to serve.

OHIO

Judge settles dispute over Bible

PAINESVILLE — A judge took a page from Solomon to settle a dispute over a Bible.

Ruling in the case of a brother and sister who have been locked in a four-year fight over who owns their mother’s 125-year-old family Bible, a Lake County probate judge hit upon a way for each to come away with their share.

“Since the family Bible is not divisible without doing harm to the asset, it must be placed for auction,” Judge Ted Klammer said. He ordered that the proceeds be split.

Dorothy Kelsey of Concord Township, about 25 miles east of Cleveland, died in 2000. Her will divided her estate equally between her son, Darryl Kelsey, and daughter, Marguerite Barton. But the siblings couldn’t agree on who should get the Bible, which contains historical information about family members.

Mrs. Barton’s attorney, Gerald Walker, said the siblings rejected suggestions to share the Bible on a rotating six-month basis.

TENNESSEE

Four arrested in rock-throwing fatality

KNOXVILLE — Four young men were arrested yesterday in connection with the death of a motorist struck by a large rock dropped from an Interstate 75 overpass.

A couple of the suspects apparently confided to family and friends, who called police, said Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison.

All local residents, they were picked up in Anderson and Knox counties, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Ashley Carrigan, who had ages for only three of them — 18, 19 and 23. Their identities were being withheld pending charges.

Authorities also think they found the van the suspects were driving early Monday when a bowling ball-sized rock crashed through the windshield of a sport utility vehicle, killing passenger Barbara Weimer, 69.

Bricks and rocks similar to the one that hit Miss Weimer were inside the van, the sheriff said.

TEXAS

Police dispatcher frees trapped kitten

SWEETWATER — Curiosity got a kitten into a tight situation until a sympathetic police dispatcher came to the rescue.

About 7 a.m. Saturday, dispatcher Cynthia Duncan received a call about a kitten with its head stuck in a tin can. The caller needed help freeing the brown and black striped kitten and was afraid to touch it because it had scratched her, Miss Duncan said.

Police officers on duty declined to respond to the call, so Miss Duncan stepped up to the plate, she said.

Miss Duncan grabbed the police scanner and drove to the location. When she arrived, she found the kitten in dire straits. The kitten’s head was “stuck good,” she said, but she managed to pry the can off and free the animal.

VERMONT

Town bans smoking in parks

RUTLAND TOWN — Rutland Town became the first community in Vermont to ban smoking in its parks.

Officials say the ordinance aims to reduce litter, prevent fires and send a healthy message to children. The only penalty for smoking in the parks is being asked to leave.

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