- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

ARIZONA

Officials probe nose-gear collapse

PHOENIX Federal investigators were trying to determine why the nose gear of an America West jetliner collapsed shortly after landing at Sky Harbor International Airport.

The plane skidded into a dirt field adjacent to its landing strip Wednesday night. Five passengers sustained minor injuries, and four were taken to a hospital with injuries described as strains and sprains.

The injuries occurred as the passengers were evacuating the plane, an Airbus 320, said Bruce Nelson, an FAA operations officer in Los Angeles. There were no injuries during the landing, he said.

About 150 passengers and five crew members were aboard the plane, which was traveling from Houston to Phoenix.


WISCONSIN

Girl crowned Miss Teen USA

RHINELANDER Miss Wisconsin Vanessa Semrow was crowned Miss Teen USA 2002 on Wednesday.

Vanessa, 17, of Rhinelander, defeated 51 contestants. The first runner-up was Jennifer Morgan, Miss California Teen USA 2002. Vanessa won a year of rent-free living in New York City as part of her award package. She also gets a yearlong salary as Miss Teen USA 2002, as well as cash and other prizes.


ALASKA

Village residents get $200,000 windfall

ANCHORAGE In a tiny storm-battered fishing village on Kodiak Island, the Indian residents are about to get rich.

Today, their village corporation is sending $100,000 to every shareholder 147 persons in all as it cashes out of the bulk of a $36 million trust built from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. In January, each shareholder gets another $100,000.

"This is the chance of a lifetime," says John Yakanak, 33, a fisherman from Kodiak City, across the island from the village of Akhiok. He says he'll use the money to start a business in sport fishing or outdoor guides.


CALIFORNIA

Rodent was a robot, man tells police

OXNARD A local man faces felony charges after being accused of torturing and dissecting his daughter's pet guinea pig because he thought it was a camera-equipped robot placed in his home by government agents, a prosecutor said.

Benny Zavala, 34, is to go to trial Oct. 1 on two counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of being under the influence of methamphetamine, said Deputy District Attorney Tom Connors. Mr. Zavala could get up to three years in prison.

The guinea pig belonged to Mr. Zavala's 6-year-old daughter. Mr. Zavala told police he had killed the guinea pig because it was diseased and could no longer stand, Mr. Connors said. A necropsy revealed the animal was being starved to death.


CONNECTICUT

Catholic school reverts to uniforms

DANBURY Students at a local Catholic high school returned to tradition this week as the school reinstitued school uniforms after having abandoned them 20 years ago.

Girls at Immaculate High Schhol can wear plaid or navy kilts, or navy or khaki uniform pants, and oxford cloth shirts with school logos. Boys wear uniform pants and shirts and any tie they want.

"At first, I wasn't too thrilled. But now that we have it, it's so much easier" said Tamra Butler, 17, a senior from Danbury. "We were ready for it. We kept defying the dress code so much."

Now the private regional Catholic high school with about 400 students is back in step with the other Catholic elementary and high schools in the diocese. All require uniforms.

"Now, we feel like a Catholic school. Everyone looks the same," said Jaime McGlasson, 17, a senior from Carmel, N.Y.


FLORIDA

Twins born in car on way to hospital

ST. PETERSBURG Shadai Williams was born on a passenger seat as her father turned the car into a Racetrac gas station.

"My husband kept saying, "Hold on, hold on, we're almost there," the infants' mother, Nicole Williams, 27, said Wednesday from her hospital bed at Bayfront Medical Center.

Fourteen minutes after Shadai's birth, her baby sister, Jade, came into the world. The babies, 6 pounds and 6 pounds 1 ounce, were born Tuesday. Their nickname: "The Racetrac babies," said Renee Anderson, 25, who witnessed the birth.


HAWAII

Woman files suit in mercury case

HONOLULU Diana Bounds was at work at the Makalapa Community Center more than a year ago when state and city officials took over the Head Start program and the adjacent Puuwai Momi public housing complex, the Star-Bulletin reports.

The reason, she said, was that she, the children and residents at Puuwai Momi Housing had been "poisoned and that they could get very sick or die."

What began as Puuwai Momi children bringing home an estimated 24 pounds of mercury from an abandoned water pump house at a nearby park turned into a nightmare for hundreds of Halawa residents, she said.

Miss Bounds, among the hundreds evacuated on March 12, 2001, because of mercury contamination and the massive cleanup, is suing state, city and federal agencies for their handling of the incident.


INDIANA

Teen accused of letting baby drown

MUNCIE A high school honors student who kept her pregnancy a secret is accused of letting her premature baby drown in a bathtub and having her boyfriend bury the child in an abandoned playground.

Savanah Pyles, 18, was being held without bond yesterday in the Delaware County Jail on a preliminary charge of murder.

Detectives searching the playground near Miss Pyles' eastern Indiana home Wednesday unearthed bones believed to be those of the infant supposedly buried there a year ago. Police were awaiting analysis to identify the remains.


IOWA

College to tell parents of underage drinking

IOWA CITY The days of keeping alcohol-related arrests secret from parents are over for University of Iowa students who are younger than 21.

To the chagrin of some students, the university will begin tracking alcohol-related charges by the Iowa City Police Department next week after sending a mass e-mail to students about the policy change.

"It's not something they need to know," Allison Hoffman, an 18-year-old sophomore from Lake Forest, Ill., said Wednesday.

Miss Hoffman told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that several of her friends have been charged with possession of alcohol under the legal age, but none of them has told parents.


MASSACHUSETTS

Lottery faulted in state audit

BOSTON Suspicious claims and tax evasion are plaguing the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, according to an audit released less than three weeks before the game's chief faces voters in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

A new poll shows Treasurer Shannon P. O'Brien clearly leading over the other three candidates, and during her campaign she has touted her management of the agency.

"The Lottery is a dramatically different place than it was before I took office four years ago," Miss O'Brien said.

Wednesday's audit by state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci questioned some claims by instant-game winners, including people with the same last name and address repeatedly winning large prizes in a short time period, against high odds.


MICHIGAN

Small plane crash kills all 3 aboard

NEWAYGO A small plane hit power lines and crashed into a small pond, killing all three men aboard, authorities said yesterday.

The plane crashed about 6:50 p.m. Wednesday in Croton Dam Pond on the Muskegon River, the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department said. The crash site is about 150 miles northwest of Detroit.

"Deputies found that a single-engine plane had been flying along the Muskegon River and had struck power lines, which crossed the river," the department said in a news release. "The plane then crashed into the river."

Sheriff's divers pulled the three men from the plane, and all were dead at the scene. Their names were being withheld pending notification of family. No other people were believed to be on board.


MISSISSIPPI

GOP drug plan angers pharmacists

JACKSON Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr., Mississippi Republican, was grilled Wednesday by pharmacists angry and frustrated about his support of a prescription-drug plan they fear would wipe out local pharmacists.

A small gathering at the Mississippi Pharmacists Association, which included pharmacy owners and professors, criticized Mr. Pickering for not meeting with them before he cast his vote and asked the congressman if he was catering to pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

"The Republican Party says they're interested in small business, but undoubtedly, we're not big enough to be considered small business because the only guys that seem to get the ear are the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical manufacturers," said Brinson Polk, who runs a pharmacy in Magee.


MISSOURI

Noshing drivers take note of new list

KANSAS CITY Eat or drink as you're driving? Chew on this: That uncovered cup of coffee in your cup holder could kill you. Or at least your bumper.

So could all that other road food. Ooey, gooey chocolate. Jelly and cream-filled doughnuts. Chili. Fried chicken. Tacos. And barbecued foods.

Hagerty Classic Insurance in Traverse City, Mich., has rated foods commonly eaten behind the wheel and issued a "Ten Most Dangerous Foods to Eat While Driving" hit list, the Kansas City Star reports.

With many states banning cell-phone calls while driving, other distractions such as eating, putting on makeup and yelling at the kids escape much discussion, said the company's president, McKeel Hagerty.


MONTANA

City grows to love horse artworks

BILLINGS Call it "horse remorse."

The public has grown fond of its Horse of Course, a display of life-sized horse statues and is going to miss the whimsical additions to the Billings landscape.

The menagerie has been on view since late May in a volunteer-generated project that stands to raise $300,000 for the restoration of the Billings Depot.

The city began "rounding up" the horses at the depot yesterday for a week of celebration beginning Monday, and culminating with the Sept. 7 auction of the 38 life-size horses and 100 other small steeds, all created by artists from throughout the region.

Because of the outpouring of affection for the horses, fund-raisers hope to encourage businesses and individuals to buy the horses so they can remain in the area.


NEW JERSEY

Police chief's slur prompts takeover

KEANSBURG The county prosecutor's office has taken over daily operations of the police department after the acting chief made a racial slur over the police radio, authorities said yesterday.

Acting Chief Michael Kennedy used the racial epithet on May 4 to refer to a group of blacks who were near an Automatic Teller Machine. The chief was calling headquarters looking for a patrolman to disperse the group before anyone committed a crime. His remarks were caught on audiotape.


NEW YORK

Newark airport to change name

NEW YORK The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a deal yesterday changing the name of Newark International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport, and extending the airport's lease until 2065.

The name change was a compromise. New York Gov. George E. Pataki and New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey had proposed calling the airport Liberty International Airport at Newark to commemorate the September 11 attacks, but Newark, N.J., Mayor Sharpe James opposed the change.

The executive director of the bi-state agency, Joseph Seymour said, "The new name honors the heroes who have fought to protect our freedom and the heroes of September 11, while preserving Newark's strong identity with its world-class airport."


OHIO

Muslim woman convicted of menacing

ST. CLAIRSVILLE A Muslim woman from Maryland has been convicted of threatening sheriff's deputies during a clash on an eastern Ohio highway just hours after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

A judge Wednesday sentenced Jamilah Ali, 38, of Baltimore, to the eight days she served in jail in September and suspended the rest of a 180-day sentence after finding her guilty of aggravated menacing.

During her trial, Miss Ali called the officers "bullish and aggressive" and said she feared for her life.

The deputies testified they felt threatened, too, especially when Miss Ali screamed she was a "warrior for Allah, and at war with the U.S."


OREGON

Owner to raze house where bodies found

PORTLAND The owner of the property where Ward Weaver lived and where the remains of two missing girls were found says he'll demolish the home.

"When [police] gave the place back to me yesterday I decided this place is going away in a hurry," Steve Hopkins said Wednesday. "I'm going to demolish the building and clear the land and let it breathe and heal so people can get back to normal."

He said an Oregon City demolition company has offered to do the job at no charge. Searchers found the bodies of Miranda Gaddis, 13, and Ashley Pond, 12, on the property during the weekend.


RHODE ISLAND

Jurors to hear lead-paint lawsuit

PROVIDENCE A jury has been chosen to hear the state's lawsuit against the former manufacturers of lead paint.

The panel of four women and two men was selected Wednesday. The trial, which is expected to last up to 10 weeks, is to begin next Wednesday.

Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse is suing companies that made the paint before it was banned by the federal government in 1978. The suit claims the paint companies should be held liable for the health problems and cleanup costs associated with the toxic paint.

Rhode Island is the first state to sue the paint companies by claiming they caused a public nuisance by selling lead paint.


TENNESSEE

Road crews sorry for traffic jam

KINGSPORT Big-city commuters might never see something like this: a posted apology from a road crew for a half-hour traffic jam.

Sidewalk work in a rural east Tennessee town during the Wednesday-morning rush hour forced closure of one lane on a main roadway, backing up traffic for a mile and generating several calls and e-mails to City Hall.

"They feel genuinely bad," Public Works Director Dave Ruller said of the crew, which was given the option of posting the apology.

"Sorry for Wed. traffic delay," declared a big red sign greeting motorists yesterday.


WASHINGTON

Doctor performs root canal on tiger

KIRKLAND For this root canal, it was the doctor who had the jitters.

The patient was Bengo, a 400-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger mix, and it had two broken teeth. Even with its front paws declawed, the animal could break someone's neck in the six minutes before a sedative could take effect.

"I've had second thoughts," said Dr. Skip Nelson, 62, a veterinarian who once worked at a zoo. "Tigers don't necessarily like having a needle stuck in" their bodies.

Wearing a tie with tigers on it, Dr. Nelson greeted Bengo at his office Wednesday, stroked its head and gingerly used a syringe mounted on a long pole to administer two shots of narcotics.

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