Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Senator donates chickens to needy families

LITTLE ROCK - Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s fellow senators won’t be receiving fruitcakes from her this holiday season.

The Arkansas Democrat instead is donating 99 flocks of chickens to needy families around the world from Little Rock-based charity Heifer Project. Each flock will be given in the name of one of Mrs. Lincoln’s Senate colleagues.Heifer Project will distribute the animals and teach recipients how to turn them into income-producing commodities.


Marines fight outbreak of bacteria

SAN DIEGO — Officials at one of the nation’s two main Marine Corps training centers are trying to contain a bacteria outbreak that has sickened more than 100 recruits and is suspected of killing an 18-year-old private.The outbreak of streptococcus A that began at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot last week prompted the base to suspend all strenuous physical activity for 3,000 recruits until at least tomorrow, when their health will be re-evaluated.

Maj. Gen. Jan Huly, the depot’s commander, said Monday that he ordered the suspension of training to prevent more recruits and instructors from overexerting themselves and becoming sick.

The action came less than 24 hours after Pvt. Miguel Zavala of Greenfield died of a bacterial infection. He had sought treatment for a rash that quickly spread over his body, and he died within hours.


Homosexual workers sue to obtain benefits

ANCHORAGE The Alaska Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that seeks worker benefits for homosexual partners.

Plaintiffs argue the state’s ban on homosexual marriage makes it impossible for homosexuals working for the state or the city of Anchorage to get benefits for their partners because marriage is required to qualify.

Nine homosexual employees and their partners have joined the Alaska Civil Liberties Union in the lawsuit.


Court upholds law on sexual predators

PHOENIX The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the state’s law for sexually violent predators in a ruling released Monday.

The law allows the state to confine people believed to be a threat even after completing their prison terms.

A lower court had ruled that the instructions given to juries deciding the cases were insufficient. The high court disagreed, saying the law is constitutional.


Campaign leads to turtles’ protection

TALLAHASSEE Matt Aresco has become a major advocate in helping turtles get across U.S. Route 27 safely. He took up this cause after seeing a smashed turtle on the highway

“When I got out and walked, I picked up 90 dead turtles in just a third of a mile,” the 39-year-old Florida State graduate student in herpetology told the St. Petersburg Times. He piled them on a tarp and took a grisly picture.

Mr. Aresco started a Web site ( and put his roadkill pictures on it. Turtle enthusiasts from all over the world sent him letters and e-mails. They also contacted state officials to urge action.

At first, Mr. Aresco was told by Department of Transportation officials that nothing could be done. He bought black landscaping cloth and finally got the DOT to donate more so he and other volunteers could build an 18-inch-high soft fence along a mile of the road to discourage turtles from getting on the road. Now the DOT is funding a $50,000 study of the problem.


Chain stores capturing Christmas-tree market

PORTLAND Operating a roadside Christmas tree stand has never been a huge moneymaker. Now that the big boys have moved into the market, it’s even tougher.

The National Christmas Tree Association says 17 percent of Christmas tree sales last year were at chain stores, such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target. That’s up from 14 percent in 2000, the first year the association began tracking sales at chain stores.

At the same time, sales at tree stands fell from 27 percent to 21 percent of all sales last year, while purchases from nonprofit organizations remained steady at 15 percent, according to the survey.

Annual sales of real Christmas trees have hovered between 32 million and 37 million over the past 10 years.


Ex-police chief jailed for starting fire

PRESTON Former Lanesboro Police Chief John Tuchek was sentenced on Monday to six years in prison for setting a fire that destroyed three landmark buildings in downtown Lanesboro in April. District Judge James Fabian also ordered Tuchek to pay $700,000 in restitution.

Tuchek argued he started the fire behind the building where his ex-girlfriend lived so he could win her back by rescuing her. An appeal is planned.


Dutch immigrant ends Christmas tradition

HUSON The really sentimental ones have been here awhile already. They are lined up at the heavy iron gate in the cold and fog, waiting for Hanneke Ippisch and her quiet husband, Les, to emerge from the yellow schoolhouse and let them in.

Promptly at 10 a.m., with Les on one side, and Hanneke on the other, they swing open the big gate and the crowd floods in. It has been this way at the Ippisches’ Schoolhouse and Teacherage every Christmas season for the past quarter-century.

For three weeks before Christmas, the place swarms with people who come to buy their handmade wooden toys and Christmas ornaments, to see their unique home and visit with the quirky couple behind it all.

But this year, the Ippisches say, is their last. The Schoolhouse and Teacherage, which is their home and a bed-and-breakfast the other 49 weeks of the year, is for sale. The Ippisches are retiring.


Bus driver guilty in ‘Taliban’ case

MARLBORO A frustrated bus driver who got lost and then told his passengers “I’m taking you to the Taliban” pleaded guilty to a disorderly-persons charge after getting lost again on the way to court.

Robert L. Mickens was fined $500 after he entered his plea Monday in Marlboro Township Municipal Court. He admitted making the remark Nov. 30 after several passengers criticized his abilities, but said it was meant as a joke.

After making the remark about the Taliban the hard-line regime ousted in Afghanistan last year some passengers became alarmed and called 911 on their cell phones. Eighteen patrol cars converged on the bus, and Mr. Mickens, 37, who was driving a Greyhound bus from Philadelphia to New York when he lost his way, was arrested at gunpoint. Mr. Mickens, who no longer works for Greyhound, was charged with creating a false public alarm.


‘Jackass’ stunt proves fatal for teenager

ALBUQUERQUE A teenager died while practicing what police say was a stunt he and a friend had seen in the movie “Jackass.”

Stephen Paul Rauen, 15, was ejected from the top of a friend’s car Monday after he jumped onto the hood, police spokesman Jeff Arbogast said.

When the driver hit the brakes, Stephen hit the pavement, then was run over and dragged a short distance.


Abortion foe faces new murder charge

BUFFALO An anti-abortion extremist was indicted on a new murder charge yesterday, almost a month after he admitted in a jail interview that he killed a doctor who provided abortions.

James Kopp, already charged with intentional second-degree murder, pleaded not guilty to the new charge of reckless murder with depraved indifference to human life. If convicted, he could get 25 years to life in prison.

“There was new evidence that was brought to our attention that warranted the second count,” prosecutor Joe Marusak said. He would not elaborate, citing a gag order, but the indictment was clearly linked to Kopp’s admissions in the Buffalo News interview last month that he carried out the October 1998 sniper attack that killed Dr. Barnett Slepian, 52, in suburban Amherst. Kopp said he meant only to wound the doctor, but “the bullet took a crazy ricochet.”


National Guard patrolling Fort Bragg’s perimeter

GREENVILLE More than 150 members of the National Guard have been mobilized to patrol the borders of Fort Bragg.

The orders call for the 514th Military Police Company to be on duty for up to a year with the possibility of an extension.

The activation to assist Operation Noble Eagle is a response to last year’s terrorist attacks.


Council proposes free-air ordinance

CUYAHOGA FALLS Council member John Schmidt thinks it’s wrong to charge a fee for air.

So Mr. Schmidt is proposing an ordinance in this Akron suburb that would require any new gas station or one that remodels to offer free air for tires.

Nearly 20 years ago, Cuyahoga Falls adopted a law requiring businesses that sell gasoline to provide air for tires as well. But in recent years, some of them have started charging 25 cents to 50 cents to use the air pumps.

Roger Dreyer, president of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said air pumps are a frequent target of vandals, and some gas station owners attempt to recoup the expense by charging a small fee.


Board names school after civil rights activist

PHILADELPHIA A suburban Philadelphia school board has voted to name a new high school after Bayard Rustin, the late civil rights activist known both as an aide to Martin Luther King and for taking controversial political stances.

In a 6-3 vote Monday, the West Chester Area school board decided to name the school after Mr. Rustin, despite critics who objected to naming it after a man who was homosexual, briefly a member of a Communist youth group in the 1930s and who was a conscientious objector during World War II.


Performing arts center to be built

HUNTINGDON A state program is granting $1 million for construction of a performing-arts center named for actress Dixie Carter, a native of Carroll County.

“I am delighted to announce that Huntingdon has received this major grant, and congratulate them on their initiative and determination to build a performing arts center,” Gov. Don Sundquist said Monday.

The grant will come from the Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant Program, which began in 1991. All grants are matched by local governments.

“I am honored and pleased to be able to give back to my hometown through support of this facility,” said Miss Carter, who starred on the TV series “Designing Women.”


Students are victorious in environmental battle

TREMPEALEAU Fifth-graders here took metal silverware in hand and marched into the school cafeteria to protest the school district’s money-saving switch to plastic utensils.

Three weeks later, on Dec. 6, the Trempealeau Elementary School students claimed victory when their campaign caused the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school board to reverse its decision, agreeing with protesters that the metal utensils were more environmentally friendly.

The district had said it would save an estimated $4,500 a year by changing to plastic.

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