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Prize-winning pumpkin weighs in at 1,661 pounds

WARREN — A boulder-sized pumpkin weighing 1,661 pounds has taken top honors at a New England regional contest, though it fell short of the world record.

Joe Jutras of Scituate sat on his prize-winning gourd Saturday and posed for photos after the annual Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers’ Annual Weigh-Off.

His pumpkin fell nearly 150 pounds shy of the world record of 1,810.5 pounds, set last year in Wisconsin. But that’s an honor Mr. Jutras has held before. His 2007 gourd tipped the scales at 1,689 pounds, setting a record that held up for two years.

He told the Providence Journal that this year’s pumpkin started as a seed May 1, and he tended it two or three hours nightly and 10 hours on weekends.

TENNESSEE

Prison frees former death-row inmate

NASHVILLE — A Memphis woman who spent a quarter-century on death row and came within two months of being executed for hiring a stranger to kill her husband in 1985 was freed Friday from a Tennessee prison.

Gaile Owens, 58, was greeted by a small group of supporters outside the Tennessee Prison for Women. She was all smiles as she pushed a yellow laundry cart containing her belongings past the prison’s razor-wire fence to freedom.

Owens was sentenced to die in 1986, but her death sentence was commuted to life in prison last year and she won parole last week.

WASHINGTON

Hertz suspends Muslim shuttle drivers

SEATAC — Rental car company Hertz indefinitely suspended 34 Somali Muslim shuttle drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for praying on company time, and the workers’ union is trying to put them back in the driver’s seat after what it calls a sudden policy change.

The drivers are required to clock out, under the terms of a settlement two years ago with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hertz spokesman Rich Broome said.

“We felt it was reasonable for our Muslim employees who need to pray a couple times during the workday to clock in and clock out,” Mr. Broome said.

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