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American Scene

- - Sunday, February 26, 2012

RHODE ISLAND

Struggling city's history marked with candy bar

CENTRAL FALLS | Central Falls may be best known for being Rhode Island's only municipality to file for bankruptcy. But a new project is highlighting a very different story: its history as a chocolate manufacturer during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Mike Ritz heads the organization Leadership Rhode Island. He came up with the idea for a "Save Chocolateville" chocolate bar, and it went on sale this month.

The city was once called Chocolateville because of its chocolate mill. It's pictured on the bar's label.

The 3.5-ounce bar is made in Central Falls, and proceeds will go to help children in the city. Mr. Ritz says the project celebrates Central Falls' success in the early industrial era and the spirit of entrepreneurship.

ILLINOIS

Hemingway's boyhood suburban home for sale

OAK PARK | Ernest Hemingway's boyhood home in a Chicago suburb is for sale.

Its current owner, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, put the home on the market for $525,000 this week. That's after a plan to turn the building into a cultural center fell through because of financial challenges.

The slate-blue, three-story stucco home in Oak Park, Ill., was designed in part by Hemingway's mother, Grace. She was the last Hemingway to live in the house, leaving in 1936.

Some of the writing Hemingway composed in the house likely was done in an area on the third-floor that faces south. That was Hemingway's room until he graduated from high school.

The Hemingway Foundation bought the home in 2001, but couldn't raise the money for the cultural center

NORTH CAROLINA

Man loses collection of poisonous snakes

HENDERSONVILLE | A North Carolina man is losing his exotic reptile collection worth $49,000 after police found dozens of venomous lizards and snakes in his home.

Fifty-one-year-old Walter Kidd of Hendersonville pleaded guilty Friday to 30 misdemeanor charges of possessing endangered animals and failing to properly label containers of poisonous snakes.

Police seized the reptiles in August after Mr. Kidd was bitten by an exotic venomous snake and rushed to a hospital. Officers said his mobile home was packed with snakes in plastic containers.

Mr. Kidd's attorney says the reptiles were not a danger because they were kept inside his home.

The creatures were taken to the state natural sciences museum in Raleigh.

CALIFORNIA

Sacramento airport metal detector left unattended

SACRAMENTO | Federal transportation officials have removed two officers from screening duties at Sacramento International Airport after a metal detector was left unattended and five people were suspected of going through unscreened.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis says the checkpoint at Terminal B was closed around 9 a.m. Saturday, as the five people were located and screened.

Ms. Davis says video surveillance footage showed all five - four passengers and an airport vendor - had in fact walked through the metal detector earlier without setting it off. But the detector was unattended for less than a minute at the time.

The TSA is investigating what led the detector to be unstaffed. The closure lasted about an hour.

Airport officials say 12 flights were delayed. Operations were back to normal by the afternoon.

NEVADA

Marine credits karma for $2.9 million jackpot

LAS VEGAS | Marine Cpl. Alexander Degenhardt is crediting karma for landing a $2.9 million progressive slot jackpot in Las Vegas.

Cpl. Degenhardt was accepted as a bone-marrow donor to an anonymous patient only a couple of days before hitting the jackpot Sunday at the Bellagio, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

"They asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through with it because it's kind of painful, but what's a little pain if it will save someone's life?" Cpl. Degenhardt said. "I look at this jackpot as kind of good karma for that."

Cpl. Degenhardt, 26, said he plans to continue his career with the Marines and go through with the bone-marrow donation, which is expected to occur in the next six months after extensive testing.

He and several fellow Marines had flown to Las Vegas from Washington, D.C., where he's stationed, for a week of training at Nellis Air Force Base. He said he decided to kill a couple of hours before the return flight by playing the penny slot, which takes bets from 40 cents to $2, at the Bellagio. He landed the jackpot about 10 minutes later.

"I figured I'd just go lose $100 real quick," he said. "I was overwhelmed and in shock. It's something you always want to happen, but when it does happen, you don't believe it."

Mr. Degenhardt, who will receive about $100,000 a year over 20 years, said he plans to first help his pregnant sister and his mother catch up on bills.

He decided to buy some clothes after the jackpot - at a thrift store, where he buys all of his clothes. He said he won't part with his car that has rolled up some 250,000 miles, either.

"I plan to keep driving it until I can't anymore," he told the Sun. "No sense in wasting money. I'm really pretty thrifty."

MICHIGAN

WWII vet says nobody helped after carjacking

DETROIT | A World War II veteran says nobody helped him after he was attacked and carjacked in daylight at a Detroit gas station.

A roughly four-minute surveillance video obtained by the Detroit Free Press shows 86-year-old Aaron Brantley crawling from a fuel pump to the station's door as people walk and drive by him.

Mr. Brantley told the newspaper a man knocked him down, took his keys and drove off in his car Wednesday morning. He says at least four people walked by as he crawled, unable to walk because his leg was broken.

Station manager Haissam Jaber says he didn't see the attack, but called 911 after a customer alerted him. A customer drove Mr. Brantley home, where an ambulance took him to the hospital.

Police say nobody has been arrested.

CALIFORNIA

Girl, 11, fights classmate, dies hours later

LONG BEACH | An 11-year-old girl is dead following an after-school fight at a Long Beach elementary school, but authorities say they have no immediate plans for arrests.

Police said Saturday night that the girl died at a hospital hours after the fight with another 11-year-old girl outside the school.

Authorities say Friday's fight didn't appear to be especially serious or violent, no weapons were used and neither girl was knocked to the ground.

But Deputy Chief Robert Luna said at a press conference that when she returned to an after-school program, adults noticed she wasn't feeling well.

She was hospitalized and had emergency surgery but died about six hours after the fight.

A coroner has not yet determined a cause of death.

Police are investigating.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Naked man steals fire truck, kills pedestrian

PORT ROYAL | A naked man stole a firetruck at a South Carolina apartment complex and sped away, killing a pedestrian who was walking on a sidewalk, authorities said Saturday.

The fire engine driver, identified as 26-year-old Kalvin Hunt, drove about two miles Friday before he hit a man, careened off the road and crashed into some trees, authorities said. Mr. Hunt, who was pinned inside the firetruck, was freed by rescue workers, and then started assaulting two police officers, Deputy Police Chief Dale McDorman told the Beaufort Gazette.

Brana Rogerson said she narrowly avoided a collision with the stolen engine, which plowed into six or seven other vehicles as it barreled through an intersection in Beaufort, which is located along the southeast coast of South Carolina.

"I've never seen a firetruck come out of nowhere like that," Ms. Rogerson said. "The truck didn't have its lights on. I knew it wasn't a fireman behind the wheel."

Justin Miller, 28, of Port Royal, was killed when he was hit as he walked with his brother, Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said Saturday. Firefighters with the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department had responded to the apartments for a rescue call, Mr. Allen said.

Mr. Hunt had not been charged Saturday in Miller's death, said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, which is investigating the fatality. Mr. Hunt is from Sumter, which is in the central part of the state.

Mr. Hunt, who did not have a telephone number listed, was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital with injuries. The hospital did not have him listed as a patient Saturday.

A Beaufort police spokeswoman told the Associated Press no one was available Saturday to talk about the crash.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports