- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

GEORGIA

Fired workers back at sheriff’s office

JONESBORO — More than two dozen employees fired by a sheriff on his first day in office returned to work yesterday, a day after they failed to obey an order to come in.

The 27 workers, mostly deputies and officers, will be disciplined for Wednesday’s absence, said Evan Kaine, attorney for Sheriff Victor Hill. Harlan Miller, attorney for the employees, said they were not given enough notice. Also, he said, one employee had resigned.

Sheriff Hill says he was reorganizing the 345-person department when he fired the workers on Jan. 3. A day later, a judge ordered Sheriff Hill to rehire them amid questions about whether they were terminated without cause and in violation of civil-service rules.

MASSACHUSETTS

Four whales found dead

BOSTON — Four endangered whales have been found dead in the past six weeks — including two this week, scientists said.

A dead North Atlantic right whale was spotted off the coast of Georgia on Wednesday, a day after one was found off Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. Two were found in late December off Virginia and Nantucket.

Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said biologists hope to perform autopsies on the whales found this week to determine the causes of death. Between 325 and 350 of the whales known to scientists exist, up from about 300 in 2000.

ALABAMA

House painter catches falling dog

FLORENCE — Gary Gallien is a house painter. But earlier this week, he became a dog catcher — literally.

Working with a crew at an apartment complex in Florence, Mr. Gallien caught a small dog as it fell from a fifth-floor balcony.

Mr. Gallien said he had stepped outside the building on Tuesday when he heard a woman scream and saw a white, furry object falling toward him.

“Somebody hollered, and I looked up and just stuck out my arms and caught it,” he said. “I caught it like a football. I was fixing to run for a touchdown with it.”

Mr. Gallien said he did not know where the dog came from, but he took it back to the fifth floor and turned it loose in the hall.

ARIZONA

Governor defends insurance spending

PHOENIX — Gov. Janet Napolitano defended rising spending for health insurance for low-income Arizonans.

The rising costs primarily come from growth in enrollment, which has climbed to more than 1 million people. The state now spends $860 million, or 12 percent, of the state general fund on the program.

Miss Napolitano said she’s more concerned that many Arizonans don’t have insurance.

ARKANSAS

Police arrest late-night streaker

WEST MEMPHIS — Officers finally have arrested a man accused of making late-night runs in the nude along Airport Road in West Memphis.

Officers said they had to use a Taser to subdue Fate Patterson, 39, who is thought to have dodged police for about six months. He was arrested after he ran past a police car and ignored orders to stop. Mr. Patterson was charged with indecent exposure, fleeing and resisting arrest.

Mike Allen, assistant chief of the West Memphis police department, said it did not initially appear that the man was mentally ill. He did not disclose Mr. Patterson’s reasons for running without his clothes.

CALIFORNIA

Jefferson Airplane drummer dies at 66

PETALUMA — Spencer Dryden, drummer for the Jefferson Airplane in the rock band’s glory years, including the breakthrough 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow” and the Woodstock festival, has died of cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Dryden, who died at his home on Tuesday, retired from performing 10 years ago but hadn’t been working much before that.

“I’m gone,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle last May. “I’m out of it. I’ve left the building.”

He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the Jefferson Airplane.

ILLINOIS

Gas explosion outside mall injures 10

CHICAGO — A natural-gas explosion late Wednesday overturned cars and blasted a hole in a parking lot at a shopping mall on the city’s southwest side, authorities said. Ten persons were hurt.

The cause of the explosion at the Ford City Mall was unknown, authorities said. Utility crews arrived to shut down gas service to the area. Ambulances and other emergency crews also responded.

Three of the injured were taken to the hospital in serious condition, while the others were in fair or good condition, Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Rosa Escareno said.

KENTUCKY

Medical panel tosses ethics complaint

LOUISVILLE — A state medical panel yesterday threw out a grievance questioning whether Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a physician, violated professional ethics by ordering an execution.

In a unanimous decision, the panel of the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure found that Mr. Fletcher signed the death warrant for convicted murderer Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. while acting as governor, not a doctor. American Medical Association guidelines prohibit doctors from participating in executions.

The panel meeting yesterday could have recommended a formal investigation, which could have led to sanctions against Mr. Fletcher, including potential loss of his license.

Mr. Fletcher signed Bowling’s death warrant on Nov. 8. Execution was set for Nov. 30 but was postponed pending the outcome of other cases involving Bowling.

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-official pleads guilty in graft case

PHILADELPHIA — A former J.P. Morgan vice president pleaded guilty yesterday to arranging a $50,000 payment to a close friend and adviser of Mayor John F. Street in an attempt to win favor with the administration.

Anthony C. Snell, who worked in J.P. Morgan’s southeast regional office, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud.

Investigators accused Snell and his supervisor of submitting a false invoice to the company to make it appear as if Street confidant Ronald A. White had performed legal work for J.P. Morgan. Mr. White died in November while awaiting trial.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Snell could receive up to a year in prison. He also must pay J.P. Morgan $50,000 in restitution. His trial had been scheduled to begin next week.

RHODE ISLAND

City allowed to lay off crossing guards

PROVIDENCE — A Superior Court judge ruled that Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey can lay off the city’s crossing guards, whose contract entitles them to full health benefits for working about one hour a day.

Judge Daniel Procaccini said the city’s ailing financial situation warranted the decision to furlough the guards.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Residents head home after chlorine leak

GRANITEVILLE — About half of the 5,400 residents who fled a deadly chlorine leak a week ago were allowed to return home yesterday, although some were scared and demanded indoor air tests to ensure that it was safe.

“I don’t want to go in,” Pam Burnette said as she cowered in her car while environmental contractors used chemical detectors to check her home. She finally went in, after her basement was pronounced free of the gas.

Residents evacuated this textile town on Jan. 6 after a Norfolk Southern train slammed into a parked train, puncturing a tanker of chlorine gas. Nine persons died from the fumes, and about 250 were hurt.

Only people living on the outer edge of the one-mile zone around the leak site were allowed to go home. The rest should be allowed to return as early as today.

VERMONT

Straitjacket bear irks mental-health backers

MONTPELIER — A company that sells cuddly teddy bears through the mail has angered mental-health advocates with a special Valentine’s Day item.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Co. is featuring a 15-inch bear in a straitjacket. The $69.95 stuffed animal is called the “Crazy for You Bear” and comes with its own commitment papers.

Mental-health advocates say the bear is “a tasteless use of marketing that stigmatizes persons with mental illness,” said Jerry Goessel, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

The company said it would discontinue the bear, but not before Feb. 14.

WASHINGTON

District holds forums on closing schools

SEATTLE — The Seattle School Board is holding seven forums to establish criteria for closing schools.

The district needs to close buildings because of a budget gap and declining enrollment. Elementary schools are at 80 percent capacity and middle schools at 70 percent.

WYOMING

Survivor found after fatal plane crash

RAWLINS — Searchers have found a paramedic who survived the Wyoming crash of an air ambulance that killed three other members of the crew.

Tim Baldwin, who attempted to direct searchers to the remote crash site on his cell phone, was in serious condition at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., the Denver Post reported yesterday. He was found Wednesday after a four-hour search.

Three members of a Steamboat Springs, Colo., crew were killed in crash late Tuesday night near the Rawlins Municipal Airport. Pilot Tom Benway, 35, flight nurse Dave Linner, 36, and nurse Jennifer Wells, 30, were killed.

Federal investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

From staff reports and wire dispatches.

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