- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002


Police test out sidewalk scooters

ATLANTA The Atlanta Police Department is undecided about buying new high-tech sidewalk scooters after a test run.

Six of the battery-powered, two-wheel Segway Human Transporters, which can top out at 15 mph, were lent to the department to patrol downtown during the spring and summer. They will be returned to the company this month.

Chief Richard Pennington, who will decide whether to make a purchase, has not had a chance to evaluate the vehicles' performance, police spokesman John Quigley said.

Atlanta is the first city to give the high-tech scooters a broad tryout, according to Segway officials.


Last of miners released from hospital

SOMERSET The last of the nine miners trapped for more than three days underground has been sent home from the hospital.

Thomas Foy, 51, was released Tuesday night. He has a history of heart problems, but hospital spokeswoman Dianne DeLisa declined to say why he was kept in the hospital longer than the others.

The miners were pulled safely from the mine about 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh early Sunday.

Dave Rebuck, president of Black Wolf Coal Co., said the men would be paid for the time they were in the mine and would receive worker's compensation benefits.


Gunman kills horse in its corral

Suzanne Bender paid $4,000 for a beautiful 2-year-old golden roan filly with white paint patches and a rare gray mark at the top of its neck. On Friday, she took it home to Kenai, exhilarated at the thought of racing, showing and breeding the gentle, sweet horse.

But two days later, the animal was killed in its corral, likely with one shot from a .223-caliber rifle, state troopers told the Anchorage Daily News.

Sgt. Sonny Sabala said it appeared someone drove up and shot the horse, which was struck once in the right shoulder, the bullet piercing both lungs and the heart.


Police hope to catch graffiti artists on film

PHOENIX Graffiti artists will have to be prepared to smile for the camera if Phoenix police have their way.

Officials are looking for the best place to mount a $2,600 motion-detecting camera that snaps a picture of anyone near a graffiti-prone wall. Similar cameras are used to catch speeders and red-light runners.

But the "Q-Star Flash Cam" is not a foolproof police tool. Officers would have a hard time getting a positive identity from a photo alone, and the photo evidence may not stand up in court. The value of the device, he says, is more psychological.

The motion detector triggers the flash of the camera and a programmed warning voice.


Helicopter crash kills pilot fighting blaze

LYONS A helicopter crashed while doing mop-up work on a wildfire northwest of Denver, killing the pilot.

The crash near Rocky Mountain National Park on Tuesday the second fatal crash at that fire brought to 15 the number of firefighters killed this summer as wildfires have burned millions of acres across the West. Some specialists believe the situation will get worse in August, normally one of the worst fire months.

On July 18, a four-engine, World War II-era bomber converted to firefighting use broke apart while carrying a load of fire retardant to the same fire, killing two persons.


Ex-mayor loses bid for dismissal of charges

BRIDGEPORT A federal judge denied a motion by former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano to dismiss a 14-count indictment that charges him with sexually abusing two girls.

He is accused of using a cell phone to set up the sexual acts, something prosecutors say makes it a federal crime. Mr. Giordano's attorneys argued that any cell phone conversations took place within Connecticut.


Man bites off earlobe in brawl

PORT ST. LUCIE A spectator bit off another man's earlobe and an infant girl was knocked from her mother's arms during a post-game brawl at a baseball tournament for teenagers, police said.

The fight began Monday night when the Senior Little League game ended and players from the losing team, Pinellas Park, approached the winning Deerfield Beach team and yelled obscenities, said Tom McNamara, president of the Southwestern Port St. Lucie league. The teams began scrapping, Mr. McNamara said.

The Deerfield fan, who hasn't been identified, bit off the left earlobe of a player's father, Tim Scott of Seminole, and escaped, said police spokesman Chuck Johnson.


Marijuana plants thrive amid sewage

REXBURG Marijuana plants are flourishing at the sewage-treatment plant in Rexburg.

Officials say the pot seeds apparently were flushed down the toilet and took root on the banks of the city's sewage-treatment ponds. Police cut down 10 marijuana plants, some as high as 3-1/2 feet.

But pot isn't the only thing that grows in the fertile environment of human waste. Public Works Director John Millar says he has seen everything from tomatoes to sunflowers grow there.

Not wanting to attract curious pot heads, officials aren't saying exactly where they found the illegal weed growing.


Amtrak passenger dies of heart attack

BOSTON A man who suffered a heart attack on a commuter train and had to wait about 20 minutes for medical attention while the train made its regular stops has died in a hospital, authorities say.

James Allen, 61, died Tuesday in the emergency room at Boston Medical Center, where he was taken after the train stopped in Boston, said Brian Pedro, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

Mr. Pedro said MBTA police are reviewing the emergency procedures of Amtrak, which provides crew to the commuter rail on a contractual basis. The conductor of the train has been suspended.

The crew was told of the emergency, but passengers said the train continued on, stopping twice before arriving at Boston's Back Bay station.


Coin artist fumes over design changes

AUGUSTA The artist who conceived one of the final designs for the new Maine quarter is complaining that the U.S. Mint's reworking of his image ruined Mount Katahdin.

Brian Kent of Gardiner said he envisioned a centered image of Mount Katahdin with pine trees and an American Indian in a canoe.

He has filed a complaint with Gov. Angus King's office, saying the changes resulted in Katahdin being too small, the canoe being too big and the trees being nondescript.

"To come up with a totally different design is wrong," he said. "I think it misrepresents the state's interest. Maine should have a decent design. Whether it's mine or an adaption of mine is immaterial."


Officials extend casino vote deadline

DETROIT Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the city council agreed yesterday to extend by 48 hours the deadline to vote on final casino deals.

The council now is expected to vote tomorrow on the development agreements for permanent gaming facilities for MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity and Greektown casinos. The deadline to approve the deals was supposed to be yesterday, the Free Press reported.

While some council members still have questioned certain aspects of the deals, including oversight and minority hiring, most seemed this week to favor the proposals.


85 neglected dogs removed from farm

SANBORN Amelia Odegaard says she and her family love all 85 of their dogs. "The dogs are part of our family," she said.

But Tim Shields, an attorney for the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies, doesn't buy it. "She basically has completely neglected these animals and we're not going to let this go on," he said, standing in front of her Brown County farm.

Mr. Shields, the humane society and other animal lovers removed her dogs St. Bernards, Dalmatians, Shih Tzus, collies, basset hounds and others from what Mr. Shields said is a filthy home.

Phil Gill, a veterinarian from Springfield who helped treat and move the dogs on Tuesday, told the Minnesota Star-Tribune they had internal and external parasites and ear sores from fly bites, and were malnourished.


Search for Boy Scout scaled back

WEST GLACIER Rescuers are scaling back their search for the body of a teen believed trapped under a waterfall in Glacier National Park, the Missoulian reports.

A weighted net, slung across the river below the accident site, will replace the many searchers who have spent most of a week looking for 17-year-old Thomas Hart.

Mr. Hart, who was hiking Glacier's back country with his Boy Scout troop from Franklin, Tenn., presumably drowned July 23 after falling into Hudson Bay Creek on the park's east side.

The boy's body is believed to be trapped beneath a strong whirlpool at the foot of a waterfall. The hydraulics in the 30-foot-deep hole are estimated at 6 tons of water pressure and have thwarted efforts to retrieve the body.


Author dies of Lou Gehrig's disease

SANDWICH Philip Simmons, an author who wrote about life while he was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease, died Saturday. He was 45.

Mr. Simmons was diagnosed with the disease about nine years ago.

His collection of essays, "Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life," was published by Bantam Books. In it, he wrote about living despite "a degenerative illness bent on emptying me out one teaspoon at a time."

His alma mater, Amherst College, awarded him an honorary doctorate in May.


Court overturns killer's death penalty

TRENTON New Jersey's Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of the only woman on the state's death row, a transsexual go-go dancer who admitted killing two police officers.

The court ruled Tuesday that jurors deciding the sentence of Leslie Ann Nelson, 44, of Haddon Heights, could have been confused by the judge's instructions. Justices also said the prosecutor tainted jurors by telling them defense experts could not be trusted.

It is the second time the high court has overturned Nelson's death sentence. The court did so previously in 1998, finding that prosecutors withheld information that might have changed jurors' minds. She was sentenced to death a second time in 2001.


Lawsuit accuses jail of banning books

DEMING A book ban at a county jail blocks prisoners from reading anything but religious literature, a lawsuit charges.

Books recently rejected at the Luna County Detention Center included "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin," John Steinbeck's "The Red Pony" and H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man," said Jeffrey Smith, one of two lawyers who filed the lawsuit Friday.

"The plaintiffs are equally restricted from reading Shakespeare as they would be properly forbidden to possess manuals of how to escape from jail," the lawsuit contends.

Luna County officials said there is no book ban. Jail director Ed Gilmore said he prohibits certain kinds of material, such as pornography, violent literature or hardcover books that could be used as weapons.


Gold coin sells for $7.59 million

NEW YORK A gold coin that never had a chance to be spent has proved to be worth a lot more than its $20 face value.

The 1933 Double Eagle coin was sold at Sotheby's auction house Tuesday for $7.59 million believed to be the most paid for a coin at auction.

The coin, owned by the U.S. Mint before the auction, was sold to an anonymous bidder.

Double Eagles were first minted in 1850. The ones that were minted in 1933 were not circulated because President Roosevelt decided to take the nation off the gold standard.


Court lets lesbian pair adopt shared name

COLUMBUS In a victory for homosexual rights, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a homosexual couple can legally adopt a last name they created.

The court said in a 6-1 vote that Belinda Lou Priddy and Jennifer Lane Bicknell followed all required procedures to change their names and their intent was not fraudulent.

The ruling reversed lower courts' decisions denying the name change.

Miss Priddy, 31, and Miss Bicknell, 33, filed individual applications in 1999 to have their last names changed to "Rylen," a name they created by combining several letters from each of their last names.


EPA announces environmental grants

WARWICK With mostly sunny skies and gently lapping waves, it was a beach day at Goddard Memorial State Park yesterday, the Providence Journal reports.

It was also the spot chosen by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to announce a $214,000 grant to Rhode Island to help insure more such days at Goddard and many other beach areas around the Ocean State but not just because of the weather conditions.

Located on upper Narragansett Bay and the nearest saltwater beach to Providence, Goddard is also one of several swimming areas frequently closed because of water pollution.

The grant is part of $1 million in federal funds designated by the EPA as part of a "Clean New England Beaches Initiative."


Drought costs farmers millions

PIERRE A lingering drought has cost the farm and ranch industry in South Dakota more than $822 million this year.

The figure is based primarily on the lost value of pasture grasses, crops and hay and on cattle that have been sold several months early. The losses equal more than 20 percent of state farm receipts in recent years, said Matt Diersen of the Cooperative Extension Service.

The drought has hit central and western South Dakota the hardest.


Argument over afterlife leaves man dead

DALLAS Alcohol, guns and religion proved a deadly mix in Johnson County on Sunday night. One man died and another went to jail after a night of drinking led to a discussion of who would go to heaven and who would go to hell, police said.

Clayton Frank Stoker, 21, of Joshua was arraigned Monday morning in the shooting death of 20-year-old Johnny Joslin of Godley, the Morning News reported.

Four men had returned to Mr. Stoker's residence in a mobile home park after a night of bar-hopping in Fort Worth, Sheriff Bob Alford said.

The men were sitting at a table arguing over who would go to heaven and who wouldn't when the shooting occurred, said Cpl. Pam Jetsel, a spokeswoman with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.


Ex-handyman pleads not guilty to theft

SALT LAKE CITY A former handyman named by police as a potential suspect in the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart pleaded not guilty yesterday to unrelated burglary and theft charges.

Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, repeatedly has said he thinks Richard Ricci, 48, was somehow involved in his 14-year-old daughter's disappearance.

The teen was taken at gunpoint from her bedroom early June 5.

Mr. Smart was in the courtroom for Ricci's appearance. In an unusual move, he and a family spokesman met privately for 25 minutes in a court office with Ricci's wife, Angela, and her father, David Morse Sr.

Mrs. Ricci, who left the court without commenting, maintained her husband's innocence, Mr. Smart said.


Gas pipeline's capacity to be doubled

CASPER MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. will begin a $1.2 billion project to expand the Kern River pipeline from southwest Wyoming to California, a company official said.

The expansion project will more than double the amount of natural gas sent through the pipeline, said John Smith, MidAmerican's director of regulatory affairs.

The 716-mile-long project is scheduled for completion in May 2003.

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