- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

ARIZONA

Flu activity ‘widespread’ in state

PHOENIX — Arizona now has “widespread” flu activity, the highest designation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

More than half of all confirmed cases of the flu this season were confirmed in the past week, state health officials said. Only a tiny fraction of all flu cases are confirmed by lab tests, and Arizona had 808 this year. Of those, 424 came in the past week.

ARKANSAS

Forecasters give warnings quicker

LITTLE ROCK — Double the normal number of tornadoes hit Arkansas in 2005, but the local forecasters at the National Weather Service gave residents warnings of the impending twisters an average 73 percent sooner than the national target.

Fifty-two tornadoes struck Arkansas during 2005, compared with an average for years past of 26.

CALIFORNIA

Schuller’s son follows father to pulpit

GARDEN GROVE — The Crystal Cathedral didn’t have to look far to find its next senior pastor.

Robert H. Schuller, head of the famed all-glass church southeast of Los Angeles, told his congregation Sunday that his son, Robert A. Schuller, will succeed him.

As founding pastor of the church, the elder Mr. Schuller, now 79, is considered one of the most influential religious leaders in the country. He plans to remain chairman of the board of international ministries and stay active in the church.

Robert A. Schuller, 51, will be installed as senior pastor on Jan. 22. He and his father will keep appearing together on the church’s television show, “Hour of Power,” which boasts a worldwide audience of 20 million.

The Crystal Cathedral is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and is its largest church, with a congregation of more than 10,000.

COLORADO

Snowmobilers die in avalanche

FORT COLLINS — Two snowmobilers killed in a New Year’s Day avalanche in Colorado were said to be competing to see who could drive farther up a hillside — a practice that can cause a snowslide.

The victims were identified yesterday as Jacob Kroeger, 25, of Stockton, Iowa, and Gabriel Medina, 32, of Wilton, Iowa. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said the coroner ruled the men suffocated in the avalanche.

She said witnesses told sheriff’s deputies the two men were “high-marking,” a contest to see who can reach the highest point on a slope before stalling or sliding backward.

Nick Logan of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the practice can cause an avalanche.

Seven persons were caught in the slide, but five escaped, authorities said. The avalanche took place in the mountains near Trap Lake and Cameron Pass northwest of Rocky Mountain National Park.

ILLINOIS

Cheerleading injuries on the rise

CHICAGO — Cheerleaders catapult in the air, climb human pyramids and catch their tumbling teammates as they fall to the ground.

They also make lots of emergency-room visits.

Research indicates cheerleading injuries more than doubled from 1990 through 2002, while participation grew just 18 percent over the same period.

“Cheerleading is not what it used to be. It’s no longer standing on the sidelines looking cute in a skirt,” said Erin Brooks, a former cheerleader who teaches a safety course in Mississippi. “It’s more body skills.”

A study published today in the journal Pediatrics estimates 208,800 young people ages 5 to 18 were treated at U.S. hospitals for cheerleading-related injures during the 13-year period. Most of the injuries were suffered by 12- to 17-year-olds; nearly 40 percent were leg, ankle and foot injuries.

Almost all the patients in the study were treated at emergency rooms and released. But because researchers used only ER numbers gathered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the true number of those injured is even greater, since many children are treated at doctors’ offices or by team trainers, researchers said.

IOWA

Lawmakers seek paint-removal funds

DES MOINES — Two state lawmakers say they will push for Iowa to increase the amount of money spent to help low-income residents remove lead paint from their homes. State Reps. Ed Fallon and Wayne Ford, both Des Moines Democrats, said the state should increase the amount spent on lead removal by about $1 million.

That could save taxpayers money by eliminating chronic medical problems linked to lead exposure. About 7 percent of Iowa children have high lead levels in their blood — about four times the national average.

MAINE

Regulators demand cruise ship cleanup

PORTLAND — Maine’s environmental regulators are starting a new permit system that requires cruise ship discharges to be as clean as wastewater treated on shore.

Cruise ships would be prohibited from dumping wastewater within three miles of shore unless it meets the same water-quality standards as municipal treatment plants. The rules apply to passenger ships with at least 500 beds.

NEBRASKA

Survey: Senators back concealed weapons

LINCOLN — State Sen. Jeanne Combs believes Nebraskans will soon be able to carry concealed weapons. Miss Combs, a member of the National Rifle Association, introduced her measure last year.

In an Associated Press pre-session survey, 26 of 49 senators said they would favor allowing Nebraskans to carry concealed weapons, while five said they were leaning that way.

NEW YORK

Small plane crashes into Hudson River

YONKERS — A single-engine plane crashed into the Hudson River yesterday, and two persons were rescued by divers and helicopter crews, authorities said.

It appeared that the two persons were the only ones aboard when the plane went down shortly before noon near the Yonkers city pier, police Lt. Maureen Zadorozny said.

The two were pulled from the water by New York City police and Coast Guard divers who jumped into the river from hovering rescue helicopters. The helicopters then lifted the victims by basket and flew them to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where their condition was not immediately known.

According to Max Coyle, a Yonkers battalion fire chief, the two were conscious but suffering from hypothermia, or lowered body temperature.

The flight’s place of origin and destination were not immediately known, said Jim Peters, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

OHIO

Cat calls 911, gets help for owner

COLUMBUS — A man who fell out of his wheelchair says his cat apparently called 911 for help.

Police received a 911 call from Gary Rosheisen’s apartment Thursday, but there was no one on the line. When they called back and got no answer, they decided to check things out.

In the apartment, they found Tommy the cat lying by a telephone on the living-room floor.

Mr. Rosheisen was unable to get up because of ministrokes that disrupt his balance and pain from osteoporosis. He also wasn’t wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn’t reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help.

Mr. Rosheisen said he got the cat three years ago and tried to train him to call 911, unsure if the training ever stuck. “He’s my hero,” Mr. Rosheisen said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Four charged in brick killing

PITTSBURGH — Four teenagers have been charged with beating a 17-year-old boy to death with a brick after a New Year’s party.

Joshua Schuffert of Pittsburgh died early Sunday, shortly after police found him bleeding and unconscious in a speeding car his friends were driving to a hospital.

The father of the one of suspects told police that Joshua and some friends crashed a party Saturday and that Joshua’s group threatened to “brick” vehicles as they left. After a car window was smashed, another group of youths went looking for Joshua and his friends. A fight ensued in which Joshua was beaten with a brick, police said.

The four teens remained in jail yesterday.

RHODE ISLAND

Board will hear Cianci pension case

PROVIDENCE — The Providence Retirement Board plans to hold hearings on blocking former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci from receiving his pension.

Cianci was convicted in 2002 of racketeering conspiracy and is currently serving a federal prison sentence in New Jersey. City ordinance allows only those employees who give “honorable service” to receive retirement benefits. The former mayor is entitled to two pensions totaling between $75,000 and $80,000 a year.

TENNESSEE

Customer protests Waffle House ban

JOHNSON CITY — Bart Hoard’s desire for a little milk has spilled over into a five-year dispute with a Waffle House restaurant.

Mr. Hoard describes himself as a loyal, two-decade-long Waffle House customer who was driven to demonstrate with a handmade sign last week over an escalating conflict that began when he says he simply asked for some milk to put in his coffee.

As Mr. Hoard tells it, he was told that if he wanted milk he would have to pay for a full glass. He responded by going to a nearby market, buying a carton of milk and coming back to needle Waffle House franchise executive Andy Mount with the well-known tag line: “Got milk? I do.”

Mr. Hoard said the conflict escalated more than two years ago when he was accused of smoking marijuana outside a restaurant and was banned from Waffle House restaurants in the area. Mr. Hoard denies he was smoking the drug. On Thursday, he said the police were called when he drove into a Waffle House parking lot — and he responded with his one-man picket line.

Waffle House corporate officials in Norcross, Ga., didn’t have an immediate comment because they are still looking into the situation.

TEXAS

Jury duty pay to rise in state

DALLAS — Texas will no longer be among the stingiest states when it comes to pay for jury duty, raising the $6-a-day rate in the first increase in more than 50 years. Jurors will get $40 a day effective Jan. 1 under a new law designed to improve the state’s low level of juror participation.

The National Center for State Courts says Texas rates near the bottom nationwide in jury pay.

UTAH

Company helps ID tsunami victims

SALT LAKE CITY — Many of the dead from 2004’s tsunami were buried in mass graves to prevent disease from spreading. Now, some are considering mass exhumations. If that happens, a Utah company wants to again help identify remains through DNA samples.

Sorenson Genomics helped identify victims after the December 2004 disaster. Company officials said at least 7,000 tests were run on 1,300 samples.

WISCONSIN

Woman, 103, goes to first Packers game

GREEN BAY — At 103 years old, Leone Margaret McKenney couldn’t see or hear much over the crowd’s roars at her first Packers game — but she had the time of her life.

“I will never forget this. It was a humdinger,” the great-great-grandmother said after the Sunday game. “I don’t know when I have enjoyed anything as much as I enjoyed that.”

Mrs. McKenney had said she never got to a Packers game when she was younger because her husband wasn’t “too keen about football” and she never had the opportunity, even though her family moved to the Green Bay area in 1947.

Mrs. McKenney, who keeps a picture of legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr in her apartment, received the luxury box tickets from the owners of Renaissance Assisted Living in De Pere, where she has lived for five years.

On Sunday, Brett Favre threw his first touchdown pass in five games, giving the Packers a 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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