- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

GEORGIA

‘Stroller Strides’ encourages exercise

ALPHARETTA — Julia DeCredico once pushed her triplets in a stroller only to calm their fussiness.

But now she takes 22-month-old Claudia, Joseph and Davis on strolls regardless of their moods, because it’s her exercise time through Stroller Strides, a national fitness program for moms and their children with franchises in 120 communities.

The suburban Atlanta group is led by instructor Heather Pierce — pushing her 1-year-old daughter, Jessica, in a stroller. In a 1.5-mile loop through Alpharetta, the group stops at scheduled fitness stations along the way to do body-toning exercises while singing children’s songs, such as “London Bridge” and “Old MacDonald.”

PENNSYLVANIA

Gash found on oil tanker

PHILADELPHIA — Divers found a six-foot gash on the tanker that leaked 30,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River, creating a 20-mile-long slick that killed dozens of birds and threatened other wildlife, officials said yesterday.

Divers investigating the tilting Athos I on Saturday found holes in the underwater cargo tank closest to the rear of the vessel and in an outside ballast tank, said Jim Lawrence, spokesman for the tanker’s Greek owner, Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA.

Two tugboats were guiding the tanker toward a dock in Paulsboro, N.J., where the oil was to be delivered. A stretch of the busy river was closed to commercial and recreational traffic while the spill was being cleaned up.

ALASKA

Missing pilot found alive

ANCHORAGE — A pilot missing since last Monday was found alive Saturday afternoon in a remote southern Alaska bay — in good shape and with upbeat spirits, the Alaska National Guard said.

Michael Holman was spotted by Coast Guard crew members in a C-130 transport plane during a training exercise near Homer, said Maj. Chris Kobi, with the National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center. The crew picked up a distress call that the 46-year-old pilot made through his hand-held marine band radio.

The crew was able to see a bonfire that Mr. Holman built at Dogfish Bay, about 15 miles from Seldovia. He was outside the 4,000-square-mile area where searchers, hindered by wind, snow, rain and fog, had been looking for him.

Mr. Holman told the crew that he had plenty of food, water and other provisions and was staying inside a cabin. Wind and approaching darkness prevented rescuers from picking Mr. Holman up Saturday; the National Guard planned to take him to Anchorage yesterday.

ARIZONA

Cameras help settle racial-profiling case

PHOENIX — Highway Patrol cars are being equipped with video cameras to record traffic stops and help settle a class-action lawsuit that accuses the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) of racial profiling.

The cameras are part of a proposed settlement expected to be submitted to a federal judge for approval soon, DPS officials and a lawyer for the plaintiffs said. Approval would end a three-year-old case that originated with traffic stops made along interstate highways in Coconino County.

FLORIDA

Report finds deficits at charter schools

WEST PALM BEACH — Dozens of Florida charter schools have budget deficits and problems with basic accounting procedures, a state report found. Nearly 30 percent of more than 200 charter schools ended the 2002-03 school year with deficits.

About 25 percent had problems with managing staff, and 15 percent had trouble tracking spending. State education officials downplayed the findings, saying changes have been made to increase accountability.

INDIANA

Neglected infant turns out to be doll

KIRKLIN — Rescuers responding to a report of an infant left alone in a vehicle arrived to find that she wasn’t breathing.

No big deal because the victim turned out to be nothing more than a doll in a car seat.

A woman had phoned the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and said a baby had been left in a locked car in Kirklin, a town of about 800 about 40 miles north of Indianapolis. The woman told the dispatcher that she thought the child might not be breathing.

Sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and emergency medical technicians raced to the scene and used a special device to unlock the car’s door, said Sheriff’s Department Lt. Joe Mink.

When officers opened the car door, they discovered the supposed infant was a doll, Lt. Mink said. No further action was taken.

MISSOURI

Oldest state employee not ready to retire

KANSAS CITY — Missouri’s oldest full-time state employee figures she’s got 10 more years to go before it’s time to retire. By then, her age will be in triple digits and she can “take four or five years off and party.”

Virginia Arn, who turns 90 on Friday, said her job at the Division of Motor Vehicle and Drivers Licensing (DMV) is “heaven.”

“I love the people. I have a lot of fun with them. People are always asking me how old I am, and I don’t mind telling them.”

For the past five years, Mrs. Arn has worked as a greeter at the DMV, helping people find the right line and making sure they have the correct paperwork. Office manager Dave Hostetler said she has the best attendance record in the office.

NEBRASKA

Ex-landmark hotel to close Dec. 31

NORTH PLATTE — The landmark Hotel Pawnee is scheduled to close Dec. 31, forcing 65 special-needs residents to find a new place to live.

After decades as a prestigious hotel, the building was converted into a retirement home. For the past eight years, it had housed people with mental illness or special needs. Owner Bob Parsons says the hotel loses about $20,000 a month.

NEW YORK

Shoppers hospitalized from pepper spray

NEW YORK — Police were reviewing video-camera footage to find out who discharged pepper spray inside an elevator at Toys R Us’ crowded flagship store, sending at least three persons to the hospital, authorities said.

Saturday afternoon’s incident also left others with irritated eyes at the toy chain’s Times Square store during the busy shopping weekend.

Susan McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us, said the incident was under investigation but declined to elaborate.

“We are cooperating fully with the police,” she said.

OHIO

Troops to get tastier eggs

COLUMBUS — Isn’t it already “the incredible, edible egg?” Only if it’s not served up in an meals-ready-to-eat.

The military discontinued using eggs in its “meals-ready-to-eat” pouches about 10 years ago after troops complained that they were rubbery and had a grayish tint.

Now, defense officials want to dish up a tastier, tender egg to America’s troops — and they’ve enlisted the help of three schools to do just that.

Researchers at Ohio State, Washington State and the Illinois Institute of Technology are experimenting with a way to preserve scrambled-egg patties by combining high temperature with high pressure. The researchers have been working on the project for the past 16 months with a $250,000 grant.

Patrick Dunne, senior adviser in the Combat Rations Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center near Boston, said he hopes the new egg item can be introduced next year, but it might not get into the hands of troops until a year or two later.

OKLAHOMA

Newspaper: Nichols admits aiding McVeigh

OKLAHOMA CITY — Terry Nichols admitted during plea negotiations in his state trial last year that he played a major role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Nichols admitted to prosecutors in a signed statement that he helped Timothy McVeigh make the bomb that killed 168 persons in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the Oklahoman reported. McVeigh was put to death for masterminding the attack.

“McVeigh told me what to do,” Nichols said in the statement, which was prepared with the aid of his attorneys.

Nichols, 49, is serving life sentences without parole for separate convictions in state and federal courts for his role in the bombings. Juries in 1997’s federal trial and the state trial this June deadlocked over whether he should be sentenced to death.

According to the statement, Nichols knew of no other conspirators in the attack and said he did not know which building McVeigh had chosen as a target until reading about it after the bombing.

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