- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Attendance lags at theme parks
ORLANDO Attendance at North American theme parks fell by 3.2 million visits this year, largely because of a sluggish world economy that kept international visitors at home, an industry survey said.
Attendance at the 50 most-visited theme parks in North America this year was 170 million, down from 173.2 million in 2001, said the annual survey by Amusement Business, a trade magazine. Almost three-fifths of those parks showed attendance decreases from last year. The decline amounted to almost 1 percent.

Innocent man freed after serving 5 years
HUNTSVILLE James Levi Byrd had Christmas shopping and family on his mind as he stepped out of a state prison at Huntsville as a free man after serving five years for a crime he didn't commit.
"I'm ready to go shopping and buy everybody whatever they want," Mr. Byrd said on Monday. "It's fine with me."
Gov. Rick Perry granted clemency yesterday to Mr. Byrd, 39, of Fort Worth, who was sentenced to 30 years after a jury convicted him of robbery for stealing lawn equipment from a garage. Mr. Byrd's brother, Donnie Johnson, 44, later confessed to the crime.
Both men had passed polygraph tests.
"The worst part was doing time for something I didn't do," Mr. Byrd said Monday.

C-SPAN to show Clinton course
LITTLE ROCK Next semester the whole country can get a lesson in former President Bill Clinton.
The C-SPAN public-affairs cable network will broadcast every class of "The Clinton Presidency," a new course at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that will examine Mr. Clinton's achievements and scandals.
Guest lecturers will include longtime Clinton attorney David Kendall, Clinton confidant and counsel Bruce Lindsey, former NATO Cmdr. Gen. Wesley Clark and the former president himself. Clinton critics, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also have been invited.
"The nation continues to be obsessed with the Clinton years," said political science professor Margaret Scranton, who will teach the course.
C-SPAN and the university reached an agreement last week, Mrs. Scranton said.
The course, which begins Jan. 16, will examine Mr. Clinton's impeachment, his campaign style and his rise from a Southern governor to president, as well as such issues as foreign policy, health care and the economy during the Clinton era.

Women charged for leaving children
DENVER Two Centennial women were charged with misdemeanor child abuse after authorities say that they left their seven children, ages 9 months to 9 years, alone in an apartment while attending a Christmas party.
A neighbor called 911 Saturday night after a young boy came to her door seeking help, the Denver Post reported. When the woman went into her neighbor's apartment, she found a 9-year-old boy suffering from a head wound.
"He was screaming for help," said the woman, who asked not to be identified. "His brother fell in the bathroom and hit his head. He had a big cut on the back of his head, and blood was going everywhere. There was no adult supervision."
Deputies from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's office and medics from South Metro Fire Department checked the children and gave them a clean bill of health, according to a statement released by the sheriff's office. The boy with the cut was treated at the scene.
Deputies called Lynetta Cross and Bennitha Cross, her sister, at the party and told them to come back to the apartment. When they returned, each was cited with a misdemeanor count of child abuse.

Search continues for rape suspect
ATLANTA A rape suspect who escaped from the Fulton County Jail last week remained at large Monday, authorities said.
Fulton County Sheriff's Sgt. Clarence Huber said the fugitive, Quwan Rogers, is believed to be driving a red Ford pickup truck stolen Saturday night, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Rogers, 22, and his cellmate, Octavio Diaz, escaped from their sixth-floor cell through a ventilation shaft before dawn Friday and snaked down a rope made from a bedsheet.
Diaz, 33, fell to the ground and was captured.
Jailed since Oct. 10, Rogers was being held on charges that included false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, aggravated sodomy and rape.
Police said Rogers is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, hitting her in the face with a rifle and threatening to kill her.

Police officer shoots, kills armed robber
LANSING An off-duty Chicago police officer who was Christmas shopping at a crowded Kmart store shot and killed a man who was trying to rob an armored car, police said.
Two men approached a United Armored Services employee Monday as he was delivering money to the store in the Chicago suburb, police said.
A witness alerted the off-duty officer, who approached one of the men at the front of the store and identified himself. The gunman fired. The officer then fatally shot the gunman, Lansing Police Chief Dan McDevitt said. There were no other injuries.
"It looks to me like we've got a hero," Chief McDevitt said.
He said the officer, who was not immediately identified, was shopping for Christmas gifts for children as part of a police program.
Police were still looking for the second suspect.

Woman's death linked to serial killer
LAFAYETTE Authorities said that they believe a woman whose body was found last month in a field near Lafayette was slain by a serial killer responsible for the deaths of three other women.
Trineisha Dene Colomb, 23, was reported missing Nov. 22 after her car was found in Grand Coteau, a small town near Lafayette. Two days later, a hunter found her body about 20 miles away.
DNA evidence from the scene matched genetic evidence from the other killings, which occurred in Baton Rouge, about an hour's drive east of Lafayette on Interstate 10, Lt. Craig Stansbury said Monday.
A witness reported seeing a white pickup truck parked behind the woman's abandoned car at the end of a gravel road, authorities said. A similar vehicle was mentioned by witnesses at the other killings.
The first three victims were linked by DNA in the summer, setting Baton Rouge residents on edge and leading to the creation of a special investigative task force.
A hot line for tips has received thousands of calls, and police said that they have checked out thousands of leads but that there have been no arrests.
The first victim, Gina Wilson Green, 41, was found strangled in her home Sept. 24, 2001. Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, was found stabbed to death in her home May 31. Pam Kinamore, 44, was abducted from her home July 12. Her throat was slit and her body dumped about 30 miles from Baton Rouge.
Authorities say Miss Colomb died from blunt trauma to the head.

Thin ice blamed in two deaths
MINNEAPOLIS The bodies of two men whose vehicle fell through lake ice into 27 feet of water were recovered Monday in Aitkin County, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.
Ice on Farm Island Lake varied from 14 inches thick to 2 inches, said Tim Smalley, boat and water specialist at the state Department of Natural Resources. The men, whose names haven't been released, apparently drowned Friday night. Divers found one man inside the vehicle and the other outside it, Sheriff Dennis Landborg said.
Around Minnesota last week, nearly two dozen vehicles or fish houses fell through thin ice despite repeated warnings of danger, Mr. Smalley said.
"There's some really, really spooky ice conditions out there," he said. "And we've had some really close calls. We've had ATVs dropping through the ice like crazy. I'd say if you're thinking of driving on the ice, don't." ATVs are all-terrain vehicles.

Police arrest suspect after standoff
ST. LOUIS A man who had been sought by police since Saturday for purportedly setting two houses on fire surrendered after a standoff inside the car museum he helped found.
Police discovered Henry Hersman, 43, inside the boiler room of the American Graffiti Car Museum on Monday night after searching the business.
Earlier in the night, police closed two highway ramps from Interstate 44 near downtown St. Louis and the street in front of the rundown building housing the museum.
Mr. Hersman was charged earlier Monday with five counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated arson.
Mr. Hersman, of Wood River, Ill., is suspected of burning his and his parents-in-law's houses in rural Macoupin County, Ill., Saturday morning, said Jersey County Sheriff Paul Cunningham.
Mr. Hersman also drove a burning car into his in-laws' house, the sheriff said. Authorities were not certain how Mr. Hersman escaped after the crash.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that authorities believe Mr. Hersman had learned that his wife and their two children were at her parents' house when the fire was set. Bail was set Monday at $2 million.
Democrats attack GOP for free trips
RENO Two leading state Senate Democrats say seven Republican lawmakers should not have taken free trips to a recent national convention of a conservative group supported by major corporations.
Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, and Sen. Joe Neal said that they were opposed to the Republicans attending the States and National Policy Summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington because they believe the group pushes the agenda of corporate America at the expense of the people, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
But the Republicans on the trip, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio said that they learned how other states are trying to solve budget deficits.
"I get tired of people who seem to find fault with everything someone else does," Mr. Raggio said. "We should be going forward with finding solutions to our problems and not trashing something of this nature."
Paper mill reopening faces more delays
BERLIN Frustrated with another delay in their return to work, laid-off mill workers say that their money, patience and hope all are running out.
The pulp mill in Berlin and paper mill in Gorham shut down in the summer of 2001, leaving hundreds out of work.
After Fraser Papers of Stamford, Conn., took over in May, more than 400 workers at the Gorham mill returned to their jobs, but hundreds who worked in Berlin were told to wait until September, then January.
Now, company officials say the reopening will have to wait until March or April.
Former mill worker Bob Sanschagrin said that he was thrilled when the company told him in late November that he would be among the first to be back in January. But a few days later he learned that he would have to wait.
"That hit me the worst because it really brought my hopes up high," said Mr. Sanschagrin, who was recently laid off from his temporary job digging graves and making repairs at a local church. "It seemed like they would pick us up a little bit and then slam us down, and this last time, they slammed us down pretty hard."
The help that has allowed many people to scrape by is about to run out, several months short of when the mills are scheduled to reopen.
State unemployment benefits have been extended and will expire in February.

Nuclear lab cited for safety violation
LOS ALAMOS Los Alamos National Laboratory violated nuclear safety rules governing waste storage, a federal nuclear agency has told the lab's operator.
The violations have long since been cleaned up, said Rick Malaspina, a spokesman for the University of California, which operates the lab. The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday that neither the lab workers nor the public was harmed by the improper storage.
Plutonium-contaminated waste, such as glove boxes or lab coats, was stored beginning in 1996 in a location that had not been approved by the government, said Tim George, a division manager at Los Alamos.
Lab officials discovered the problem in June 2001, and the waste was transferred to an approved storage facility without federal prompting, Mr. George said.
The notification comes after a rash of administrative-control problems at the lab, including the disappearance of an estimated $2.7 million worth of computers and high-tech hardware. Officials said the notice was not related to those issues.

Man indicted in e-mail-threats case
PITTSBURGH A 37-year-old Pennsylvania man has been indicted for purportedly threatening to kill President Bush and blow up the White House on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, authorities said.
James Trauger of Mars, about 15 miles north of Pittsburgh, sent threatening e-mails to the White House on September 11, according to an indictment handed up Dec. 17.
If convicted, Mr. Trauger faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Snyder said.

Confederate submarine waiting for museum
CHARLESTON State Sen. Glenn McConnell knows that his vision to build a nearly $40 million museum to showcase the H.L. Hunley Confederate submarine may have to wait for better economic times.
The first sub in history to sink an enemy warship has been preserved in a cold-water storage tank on the former Charleston Naval Base since it was raised from the ocean floor in 2000.
"It might be better to keep her safe where she is and make the best of that environment until we are ready to move to the world-class level," said Mr. McConnell, a Republican from Charleston and chairman of the Hunley Commission. "We don't want to build this unless it can stand on its own two feet."
Mr. McConnell thinks a museum built for the Hunley and featuring Civil War maritime history could be the "greatest tourist attraction in the state."
But he added that he does not plan to ask the General Assembly for any money this session because of state budget woes.
State leaders say that they can't justify budgeting money for a submarine museum at a time when jobs and services from health care and prisons are being cut.

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