- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 24, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Governor breaks leg during ski vacation

SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family Saturday morning in Sun Valley, Idaho, a spokesman said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, 59, was taken to a hospital for X-rays and was discharged with a fracture to his right femur, said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor’sdeputy chief of staff for communications.

He will have surgery to repair the bone when he returns to Los Angeles, Mr. Mendelsohn said. The governor remained at his Sun Valley home Saturday night and still planned to spend Christmas there.

No one else was involved in the accident, Mr. Mendelsohn said.

TEXAS

Town’s future uncertain; court to rule next month

MUSTANG — The town of Mustang is not much to look at: two dusty streets, a strip club, a boarded-up country bar, one trash bin and a dilapidated trailer park where the entire population lives.

Carved from a pasture in 1973 to sell alcohol so a beer run was no longer a 60-mile drive to Dallas, Mustang is broke, withering and down to about 50 residents.

Yet even with the place in such dismal shape, two persons have been fighting for a year over who effectively owns Mustang: the strip-club operator and the little-known widow of the town’s co-founder.

That fight makes Jan. 17 — when a judge is expected to decide the rightful owner and who will try to fix its financial problems — perhaps the most important date in Mustang since Aug. 18, 1973, when 207 residents lured here by the promise of free rent voted to incorporate the town.

“All I want is to see Mustang on its feet again so we can pay the bills,” said Gary Arnett, chief of the town’s two-man volunteer fire department.

COLORADO

Blizzard-delayed mail rushed in

DENVER — About 1,500 mail carriers fanned out across Colorado and Wyoming on Christmas Eve, making rare Sunday deliveries in a bid to get hundreds of thousands of blizzard-delayed packages to their destinations.

“This is an unprecedented effort,” Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro said. They all volunteered for the extra duty, he said.

Normally, about 100 carriers would be working yesterday, he said.

A blizzard dropped up to 31/2 feet of snow on Colorado and Wyoming last week, disrupting mail service for parts of three days during the Christmas delivery crunch. The storm also shut down roads, businesses, schools and airports — including Denver International, the nation’s fifth-busiest.

That delayed mail arriving from within the two states as well as elsewhere.

“There were flights of packages that didn’t get in until Saturday morning,” Mr. DeSarro said, adding that 300,000 packages arrived at post offices in the two states over the weekend.

FLORIDA

One killed in mall shooting

BOYNTON BEACH — Gunfire erupted at a crowded mall yesterday afternoon, killing one shopper involved in a fight with the gunman who also shot at police as he tried to escape, authorities said.

“The suspect ran through the mall and began to fire at officers as they were chasing him through the mall,” said Boynton Beach Police Lt. Jeffrey Katz.

SWAT team members arrested the suspect after he barricaded himself inside a store at the Boynton Beach Mall, north of Miami, Lt. Katz said.

The mall was evacuated and no other injuries were reported after the shooting broke out in midafternoon, police said. It was not clear what started the fight. The names of the victims and the shooter have not been released.

A mall spokesman, Sam Yates, said the shooting was outside of a store inside the shopping complex. The mall was closed for the rest of the day.

LOUISIANA

Tree stands sell big in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Clements Hardware always ended the Christmas season with a few unsold tree stands. But that was before Hurricane Katrina.

“Stands are the big thing this year, and we’re flat out,” said Darren Clement, whose family has run the store for 26 years.

It’s yet another delayed impact of Katrina, store owners say.

“When people gutted their houses, tree stands went with them,” Mr. Clement said.

The rush on tree stands is a positive sign, said Emily Chamlee-Wright, a senior scholar with George Mason University’s five-year Katrina research project that tracks the social, political and economic linchpins that help rebuild communities after disaster.

Miss Chamlee-Wright said buying a tree stand means people are “spending money on an item that signals that they’re back home. Because you don’t buy a tree stand for a place where you’re not going to stay for a while.”

MASSACHUSETTS

Big Dig tunnel reopens after death

BOSTON — The Big Dig’s Interstate 90 westbound tunnel reopened late Saturday after federal inspectors approved repairs made in the wake of motorist’s death, a state official said.

One lane of the I-90 eastbound connector — the site of the deadly accident — is already open.

“In one capacity or another, you now have the I-90 connector open in both directions,” said Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation.

The road closed in July after concrete ceiling panels fell on a car, crushing 39-year-old Milena Del Valle.

Workers have spent months testing and reinforcing bolts that keep the ceiling panels suspended above the roadway. The repairs, which are nearly complete, will cost an estimated $34 million, officials said last week.

NEW YORK

Disc jockey dies of shooting injuries

NEW YORK — A popular hip-hop disc jockey died Saturday after being shot at least 13 times earlier this month, police said.

Carl Blaze, born Carlos Rivera, was shot outside an apartment building near Manhattan’s Inwood section on Dec. 7, and his $20,000 diamond chain was stolen, police said. He was taken to Harlem Hospital Center, where he died Saturday.

Mr. Blaze, 30, was a DJ for hip-hop and R&B; radio station Power 105.1 FM for about three years. He had gained a large fan base by spinning records at clubs and on the air on Friday and Saturday nights.

Power 105.1 FM held a tribute for Blaze on Saturday night. The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Police said the investigation into the shooting was ongoing.

NORTH CAROLINA

Ex-paratrooper finishes his AWOL sentence

SONVILLE — A former paratrooper who admitted abandoning his post because he disagreed with the U.S. mission in Iraq was freed from a military prison Saturday, stopping in Raleigh to greet supporters before he headed home to Washington state.

Ricky Clousing, 24, left Fort Bragg without permission in June 2005 after returning from a five-month tour in Iraq, where he worked as an interrogator in a military intelligence battalion.

The Sumner, Wash., native surrendered to the military at Fort Lewis, Wash., in August, and was returned to North Carolina to face a court-martial.

He pleaded guilty in October to going absent without leave and was sentenced to three months’ confinement, reduction in rank from sergeant and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay during his confinement, which ended with a bad conduct discharge from the Army.

OREGON

Drugged cookies send 15 to hospital

STAYTON — Workers sampling holiday cookies at a wood plant here complained of feeling lightheaded and dizzy, and police think the secret ingredient might have been marijuana.

After interviewing employees, police said Thursday that drugged cookies left in a break room at the Weyerhaeuser Co. site probably were responsible for sending 15 workers to Santiam Memorial Hospital. One stayed overnight for observation.

Police are offering a $500 reward to nab the criminal who brought in the chocolate-flavored oatmeal cookies. It has no leads yet, detective Bob Thomas said.

The incident raised safety concerns at the industrial site, which has no security checkpoint, said company spokesman Greg Miller.

TEXAS

Businessman gets all of Santa’s calls

AUSTIN — Dennis Willms hears it every year about this time, the sweet, young voices looking for Santa Claus and his sleigh.

“Santa? Is that you?” they ask. Sorry kid, wrong number.

Mr. Willms is not Santa Claus nor does he know where the big fella will be on Christmas Eve. Yet for the last four years, his specialty-foods business, Hombres Foods, has been getting swamped with Christmas Eve calls from across the country from families looking for old Saint Nick.

That’s because his toll-free number for customers is one digit different from the popular NORAD hot line set up for families to track Santa’s sleigh on the big night.

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a partnership of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, functions to provide warnings in case of a missile or air attack. It also “tracks” Santa’s whereabouts.

NORAD’s Santa-tracking number is 1-877-HI-NORAD. The problem for Mr. Willms is that his toll-free number for clients is 1-877-HI-NOARD.

Mr. Willms said he plans to leave a voice message with the correct number for anyone still looking for a sleigh with a guy in a red suit pulled by Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer.

WASHINGTON

Bus passengers get $50 Christmas gifts

SPOKANE — A woman hopped aboard buses, greeted passengers with “Merry Christmas” and handed each an envelope containing a card and a $50 bill before stepping off and repeating the process on another bus.

She did it so quickly that descriptions of the woman varied among surprised Spokane Transit Authority passengers on several routes Thursday, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported Friday.

“She kind of kept her head down. I don’t remember ever seeing this lady before,” said bus driver Max Clemons.

Transit authority spokesman Dan Kolbet said efforts to identify the gift-giver were unsuccessful. Her generosity didn’t appear to be part of a marketing gimmick, he said.

The woman gave envelopes to about 20 passengers, he said. Each was sealed with a sticker that said: “To a friend from a friend.”

WISCONSIN

Snowstorm cuts power to thousands

MILWAUKEE — A winter storm dumped 7 inches of wet, heavy snow on central Wisconsin, leaving thousands of people without electricity and disrupting holiday preparations.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. reported fewer than 15,600 customers without electricity Saturday night. About half of the outages were in the towns of Wausau and Stevens Point.

“For the little ones that are making snowmen, it is awesome,” said Kelly Zagrzebski, a spokeswoman for the utility. “For us, no.”

The snow began falling Friday night and did not let up until Saturday morning. The weight of the snow snapped power lines and tree limbs, causing the outages, she said. Nearly 30,000 customers initially had service interrupted.

More than 100 crews were working to restore power, a job that would likely continue through yesterday, Miss Zagrzebski said.

Temperatures in the region were expected to drop to the teens and 20s overnight and partly cloudy skies were forecast for yesterday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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