- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2005

ARIZONA

Phoenix opens habitat project

PHOENIX — The south Phoenix banks of the Salt River, once used as a dumping site, now feature waterfalls, birds and thousands of native plants.

The city has officially opened the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project. The $100 million, 600-acre project restored the dry riverbed with a small desert stream, riparian ecosystem and 5-mile-long park.

ARKANSAS

Hunters finding less rural land

SPRINGDALE — As the opening day of deer season approaches, hunters in northwest Arkansas say they’re having troubles finding enough open acreage.

State hunting experts say that many urbanite non-hunters are moving into the once-rural region and buying up small tracts of land. Arkansas Game and Fish officials say the number of hunters statewide is slowly decreasing.

FLORIDA

Accused abductor goes on trial

SARASOTA — There is overwhelming evidence Joseph Smith raped and strangled 11-year-old Carlie Brucia after an abduction that was captured by a surveillance camera, prosecutors told jurors yesterday. But the defense said alternate suspects weren’t properly checked out.

Attorneys presented their opening statements in the trial of Smith, a 39-year-old former auto mechanic and father of three daughters. Smith could be sentenced to death if he is convicted in Carlie’s slaying, which rocked this community and attracted wide attention after her apparent abduction was shown on TV around the world.

KANSAS

Town dedicates community center

FRANKLIN — When a tornado ripped through this rural community more than two years ago, it destroyed just about everything in sight. Most figured the town would never recover.

But residents of the one-time coal-mining town in southeastern Kansas weren’t about to give up. “We had to put this community back together,” Norine Laird said. “We wanted to be ourselves again.”

On Sunday, they saw part of their dream come true when some 250 persons gathered to dedicate the new Franklin Community Center, replacing what had been for generations the gathering spot for weddings, class reunions, holiday parties and town meetings.

They released 217 blue and white balloons — one for each family living there on May 4, 2003, when the tornado ripped through with speeds up to 260 mph, leaving a quarter-mile wide path of destruction. One person in the town died and a dozen were injured.

MASSACHUSETTS

Radio host charged with wife’s murder

CAMBRIDGE — A Missouri radio talk-show host was arrested on murder charges yesterday for reportedly poisoning his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a chemical found in antifreeze.

James Keown, 31, was arrested at the radio station where he worked in Jefferson City, Mo. He later made a court appearance via video and said he would not fight efforts to return him to Massachusetts.

Prosecutors said he slowly poisoned Julie Keown, 31, with ethylene glycol while the couple were living in Massachusetts in 2004.

District Attorney Martha Coakley said the motive may have been financial: Julie Keown had a $250,000 life-insurance policy.

NEW MEXICO

‘Execution’ slayings draw FBI probe

SHIPROCK — Three persons were found shot to death in a vehicle on the Navajo Nation, the FBI said yesterday.

FBI Special Agent Bill Elwell said the “execution-style” killings occurred along a dirt road just east of Shiprock. A motive was not immediately known.

The victims were two unidentified men and a woman, Vickie Benally, 26, of nearby Farmington.

The FBI was seeking clues to Miss Benally’s whereabouts on Sunday night as part of an investigation, Mr. Elwell said.

NEW YORK

Schools seek savings on heating bills

BUFFALO — Schools around New York state are lowering thermostats as part of aggressive energy-saving strategies.

A recent survey of New York school districts found that 82 percent of respondents expect to exceed their heating budgets this year.

OHIO

Counties will use new vote machines

COLUMBUS — Half of Ohio’s counties will debut touch-screen voting machines for the election today that features five statewide issues

Longtime poll workers predict the new machines will produce long lines. Elections officials and the company that makes the machines say other states have implemented the touch-screen systems with few problems.

TEXAS

Salvadoran charged with D.C. death

FALFURRIAS — U.S. Border Patrol agents have arrested an El Salvadoran national here who was being sought by federal authorities on charges of negligent homicide, which occurred in November 1994 in the District.

The arrest took place Sunday when Border Patrol agents apprehended a group of seven illegal aliens on a ranch south of here. They were transported to the Falfurrias Border Patrol Station for processing, which included a fingerprint check through the agency’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

The check found that Neftali Cruz-Perez, 37, had an outstanding homicide warrant for his arrest in Washington. The warrant was issued by the U.S. Marshals Service after he fled the United States to avoid prosecution, Border Patrol spokesman Mario Villarreal said.

Mr. Villarreal said the illegal alien is being detained at a detention center pending his extradition to Washington.

WASHINGTON

Elephant marks fifth birthday

SEATTLE — For her fifth birthday, Hansa was served a cake of cornmeal, carrots, grapes, raisins, bamboo leaves and pumpkin frosting.

The treat may not sound appetizing to most birthday girls, but it was perfect for the 3,900-pound elephant calf at Woodland Park Zoo.

Hansa was the first elephant born at the 100-year-old Woodland Park Zoo, which has no male elephants. Chai, a 26-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to her Nov. 3, 2000, after mating with a bull at a zoo in Missouri.

Young Hansa has been a favorite among visitors ever since she arrived. On Saturday, dozens of admirers — many children — turned out to celebrate her birthday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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