- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

Gas blast destroys four homes
LAFAYETTE Natural gas leaking from a line damaged by a construction crew Wednesday caused explosions that destroyed four homes and injured four persons.
One adult and a child had to be rescued from the basement of one of the demolished houses.
Police evacuated residents of several blocks, along with students and staff from an elementary school. Residents were allowed to return by evening. Four persons were treated and released at St. Elizabeth Medical Center.
Police were told Wednesday morning that a crew installing a traffic signal had hit a gas line. At least two explosions rocked the area about 20 minutes later, and two more followed over the next couple of hours.

Mother's threats weren't reported
ST. PAUL Diana Lutz told at least four persons, including her husband and a social worker, over two months that she had thoughts of killing her sick baby daughter, but no one reported the information to authorities.
"She said she told so many people that and hoped that it would never happen. That it would be stopped," her friend Mary Kay Klein told police, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported.
But no one stopped the 32-year-old mother. On Nov. 11, she smothered 6-month-old Amanda with a pillow at their Inver Grove Heights home. Two days later, she put a gun in her mouth and fatally shot herself at a hotel.

Suit calls Vulcan religious endorsement
BIRMINGHAM A Trussville man has filed a federal lawsuit claiming government spending for restoration of a statue of Vulcan endorses a religion or religious symbol, according to the Birmingham News.
Carl Dykes is seeking $1 each in punitive damages from the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, the state of Alabama and the U.S. Department of Interior's National Park Service. The suit seeks to block the defendants from placing Vulcan on public land because he contends it represents an image of the Roman god Vulcan, also known as the Greek god Hephaestus
The suit said Mr. Dykes is a Christian and is offended by the placement of the deity in a public park.

Jury sees video of tot's testimony
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. Seven-year-old Andrew Lennie drew a picture with crayons as he softly told police how his 3-year-old brother was shot in the head.
Andrew's father, Shawn Lennie, is on trial in for criminal negligence for failing to protect his children from the loaded gun kept in his nightstand drawer.
Jurors watched a one-hour videotape of the interview with Andrew, conducted the day after the March 21 shooting.
Andrew said he and his brother, Tyler, were playing in the basement while his mother slept upstairs and his father was at work.
"He thought it was a toy gun," Andrew said. Tyler asked him for help, Andrew recounted, saying, "Don't shoot me."
"He handed the gun to me because he needed help putting it back," Andrew said in a voice barely audible. "I tried to put it back in the gun holder, and I accidentally shot him."
Tyler survived, but suffered brain damage, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

Anti-smoking law goes in effect
WILMINGTON Business was slow at the Greenwood Tavern in Greenwood this week. But the people who were there were talking about Delaware's ban on indoor smoking, which went into effect at midnight Tuesday night, bartender Susan Lorenzo said.
"I think we are going to have some problems. We are just going to ask them to respect us enough to go outside."
At the Christiana Pub in northern Delaware, bartender Deborah Varell said she fears the pub where she works will lose business.
"I never thought this day would come," she said.
Indictments name 28 in fake card scam
ATLANTA Twenty-eight persons were indicted as part of a crime ring that sold fake Social Security cards to illegal immigrants, federal investigators say.
Investigators believe the ring issued 1,900 cards beginning in April 1999. Also indicted was Social Security Administration claims adjuster Celestine Huger, 43, who received about $70,000 in payoffs, authorities say.

Tree festival has glittery kickoff
BOISE Filled with glitter and twinkle, merry wishes and Old World Santas, the Boise Centre on the Grove became a holiday wonderland Tuesday night for the 19th St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Festival of Trees Gala, the Statesman reported.
The annual event jump-starts Boise's holiday social season as well as the giving season. More than 1,000 people mixed, mingled and greeted old friends, but the reason they came was to raise thousands of dollars for the hospital.
This year, the money goes toward the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, which allows for less-invasive surgical procedures with faster recovery times.

Mayor indicted on tax, fraud charges
CHICAGO A suburban mayor who took office earlier this year despite a robbery conviction now is charged with illegally collecting unemployment benefits and not filing income-tax returns.
A grand jury indicted Dixmoor Mayor Donald Luster, 39, on one count of state benefits fraud and two counts of failure to file Illinois income-tax returns, according to the office of Attorney General Jim Ryan.

Loggers pay penalty for clear-cutting
ASHLAND An Ashland woods operator has agreed to pay a $1,000 civil penalty for creating a 25-acre clear-cut near Clayton Lake, 60 miles west of Ashland.
The fine was announced by the Department of Conservation's Maine Forest Service Wednesday. The service conducted the investigation and negotiated the settlement with Clayton Lake Woodlands.
The violations, according to the Maine Forest Service, happened in Aroostook County. The violations, that of having a 25-acre clear-cut, having inadequate separation zones, and being in violation of rules on size and arrangements of clear-cuts, goes against the state's Forest Practices Act.

Statistics show sharp crime drop
CONCORD Between 1991 and 2001, the number of violent crimes reported to the Concord Police Department fell substantially, even though the city's population grew by almost 5,000, the Concord Monitor reported.
In fact, crimes the department reported to the FBI murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson fell by almost a third, in line with a national trend.
Other crimes, such as simple assault, criminal mischief and criminal trespass, fell as well.

Mother's call lands son in jail
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS A mother's tears became the trail that police followed to arrest her son in a bank robbery, reports the Plain Dealer.
The stinging mist of a defective bank dye pack caused the tears when it exploded in Sandra Rice's basement on Cleveland Heights Boulevard a day after a South Euclid bank was robbed.
Mrs. Rice called Cleveland Heights firefighters to solve the mystery of the smokelike mist that burned her eyes when she descended to son Jason Rice's basement bedroom.
Firefighters sniffed out a red stain on the carpeting. They lifted the carpet to find a lot of money stained red, according to police.

Surprise drug search sweeps high school
NEWPORT A convoy of about 20 police cruisers and vans carrying drug-detecting police dogs from throughout the Northeast arrived at Rogers High School about 9 a.m. Tuesday for a surprise sweep of classrooms and lockers, the Newport News reported.
Police Chief Charles F. Golden said the sweep was made at the request of Superintendent Mary C. Canole.
"The school department asked us a while ago to put this together, to make a sweep of the school with the dogs," Chief Golden said.
Mrs. Canole referred to the sweep as a training exercise.

School beating remains a mystery
NORTH CHARLESTON Fort Dorchester High School officials say they don't know why a ninth-grader severely beat a fellow student who remains hospitalized.
North Charleston police said the boy was coming to the aid of another boy outside the school Tuesday when he was attacked by a 15-year-old student.
"From everything I know of the situation, there was no cause for this thing to have gone to the level it did," Principal Tim Payne said Wednesday.
The 14-year-old victim was being treated for a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain. The 15-year-old is charged as a juvenile with assault and battery with intent to kill, police said.

Council wants Olympic answers
PROVO Some City Council members are accusing Mayor Lewis Billings of playing games with Olympic refund money, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The accusations come after an Orem auditing firm, CPA Network, informed council members earlier this month that $1.26 million in Olympic sales-tax money Provo received from the state had been placed in the capital-improvement budget instead of the general fund, where it belonged.
Council member Dennis Poulsen says the finding was a revelation to the council, which had no idea Provo had received any Olympic money. The rebate is the city's one-sixty-fourth portion of sales-tax revenue that was diverted to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to help fund Olympic venues.

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