- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2003


Commandments’ backers keep vigil

MONTGOMERY — More than 100 demonstrators at the Alabama Judicial Building braved 93-degree heat yesterday to pray, read Bibles and prepare for the possibility that the Ten Commandments monument would be removed early this morning.

“It could happen this evening or tomorrow morning,” said Steven Hopkins, a minister from Burnet Bible Church in Texas. “There is a national call out to families and Christians all over the country to come to Montgomery and support the word of God.”

Jenny Graber, a teacher who drove to the courthouse from Lillian, near the Florida border, said she “may not know all the legal issues, but this is what our country was founded on. This is our heritage, and we can’t deny that.”


Farmers’ Almanac forecasts rough winter

LEWISTON — Tune up the snowblower and get out the long johns. The newest edition of the Farmers’ Almanac predicts a winter with plenty of snow.

Beginning in February, the almanac says, storms will target much of the eastern half of the country, with parts of New England getting snow into late April.

The almanac, which hits newsstands tomorrow, has been predicting the weather for 187 years. Its forecasts, written under the name Caleb Weatherbee, are prepared two years in advance. The formula remains a secret but is linked to sunspots, the position of the planets and the moon.


Officials get message from hate group

COLORADO SPRINGS — A white supremacist group called the National Alliance left fliers on vehicle windshields outside City Hall while the council members were inside drafting a resolution condemning racism and discrimination.

Council member Jerry Heimlicher called the message “stupid and disgusting.”

Fliers bearing the group’s name have been showing up around Colorado since at least February 2002.


Clock shuts down airport terminal

WINDSOR LOCKS — Aviation officials evacuated a terminal at Bradley International Airport after baggage screeners came across an illuminated wall clock they thought was a bomb.

The shutdown of Terminal A late Saturday lasted three hours and delayed some flights.

State police were notified and sent in a bomb squad.

The clock was among the possessions of an unidentified man traveling to Orlando, Fla., on Southwest Airlines. He denied any knowledge or possession of explosive devices or materials, state police said.


Four new schools will be left vacant

ELGIN — A school district that built four schools for $40 million can’t afford to open them and will leave them vacant all year.

Unit School District 46, serving students in parts of Cook, Kane and DuPage counties, will boost class sizes at other schools to handle the nearly 3,000 students who would have used the new schools starting today.

“It’s just gross mismanagement,” parent Nancy Tomasek, of Bartlett, told the Chicago Tribune. She is leading a drive to break up the 40,000-student district.

The district would need $2.8 million to staff and operate the new schools at a time when it has cut 600 teachers in an effort to save $40 million, said Jim Feuerborn, assistant superintendent for management services.

School board member Robert Wise said the district was not aware of the scale of financial difficulties until late last year, partly because of problems with new financial software.


Church’s sheep goes astray

CLINTON — One of the Good Shepherd’s sheep went on the lam.

A sheep that was meant to be a prop in a Bible school production was still missing nearly a week after it ran away from a church in this eastern Iowa town.

The two sheep in the Chancy Lutheran Church’s rendition of “The Good Shepherd” were in a pen for about 10 minutes before showtime when they got scared and hopped over the fence, said Sandy Mussman, who supervised the play.

Mrs. Mussman and her two children ran through the city chasing the sheep.

One of the animals was corralled by neighbors near Clinton Community College.

The church’s pastor spent a few nights looking for the sheep, she said.

“When people asked what he was looking for, he’d say, ‘A lost sheep,’” Mrs. Mussman said. “Then he’d have to tell them he really was looking for a lost sheep, that he wasn’t looking for sinners.”


Students grapple with tuition increases

LAWRENCE — In the days before the start of his senior year, Brandon Cox joined hundreds of other University of Kansas students in a bid for something vital to continuing his education: a job.

The crowd filling out applications at a recent campus job fair was just one sign of the times as Kansas and other public universities raise tuition this fall by percentages that often hit the double digits.

Students attending four-year public colleges and universities in 49 of the 50 states will feel the pinch of tuition increases ranging from 1.7 percent in Montana to 39 percent in Arizona. Only Mississippi kept tuition at 2002-03 levels.

Although most of the roughly 6 million students at public, four-year colleges will be paying more, they will be getting less in the way of services as schools struggle with budget cuts.

Students such as Mr. Cox, an in-state philosophy major paying his own way through college, have been particularly hard-hit. He is taking 20 credit hours per semester and expects his tuition to rise by $800 this year.


Authorities investigate midair plane crash

LAKE ELMO — Authorities are trying to determine the cause of a midair collision near the Twin Cities that killed three persons and seriously injured a fourth.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration removed the wreckage of the two light planes during the weekend for closer examination.

A Piper Cherokee and a Cessna 172 crashed just before 5:30 p.m. Friday over Interstate 94, witnesses said. The Cessna was found near Country Air Golf Park. A man and a woman in that plane died. The Cherokee, flown by a student pilot accompanied by his flight instructor, came down in a wooded area. The instructor, a woman, was killed.

Names of the three dead are being withheld pending positive identification by the Ramsey County medical examiner, the Washington County sheriff’s office said.

The student pilot, Jason Platz, 23, of Minneapolis, was listed in serious condition Saturday at Region’s Hospital in St. Paul.


College board proposes pay raise

BILOXI — A $98 million salary-increase package was proposed for faculty and staff at Mississippi’s eight public universities. The state College Board voted for the three-year, 12 percent increase.

The pay raise must be approved by the Mississippi Legislature. The increase would bring Mississippi’s salaries for full-time faculty and staff to the current Southeastern average of just less than $60,000.


Rain quiets fires, but officials are alert

HELENA — Much-needed rain during the weekend quieted three dozen major wildfires ravaging Montana, but fire officials warned crews and area residents yesterday not to let their guard down.

“It’s still a fairly tentative situation,” said Sandy Kratville, an information officer with the Northern Rockies Interagency Information Center in Missoula. “We’re staying ready.”

The information officer said the coming week was expected to bring more of the same conditions that had fed the fires for the past month: dry air and high temperatures.

The National Interagency Fire Center said wildfires still active yesterday had burned about 520,900 acres across seven Western states. Fires in Montana accounted for almost 350,000 of those acres.

A complex of fires about 35 miles from Missoula was keeping 195 persons from their homes. In the eastern part of the state, at least five blazes were contained during the weekend, freeing firefighters to help farther west.


Town holds armpit festival

BATTLE MOUNTAIN — Residents of Battle Mountain raised their armpits with pride in a tribute to their town and underarms everywhere.

About 2,000 people turned out for the community’s second annual “Festival in the Pit” — a takeoff from Battle Mountain being named the “Armpit of America” by a Washington Post columnist in 2001. The festival last weekend was sponsored by Old Spice, the maker of men’s deodorant and cologne.

Events included an Old Spice deodorant toss and armpit beauty contest, as well as the more traditional amusements of hot-air balloon rides, bed races, mud bogs and team roping competitions.

Lander County Commissioner Mickey Yarbaro called the three-day festival the most successful event in the town’s history.

Besides that, he said, it “captured the spirit of the town and brought the residents together to show how fun, interesting and wonderful an armpit can be.”


Firefighters killed in van-truck collision

VALE — A van full of firefighters collided with a tractor-trailer and exploded in flames yesterday, killing all eight inside and injuring the two persons in the truck.

The firefighters, all younger than 23, were returning home to Oregon late yesterday afternoon when the van crashed on a remote eastern Oregon highway about 15 miles west of Vale, Malheur County Sheriff Andy Bentz said.

The firefighters worked for First Strike Environmental, a Roseburg-based contract firefighting company. Their names were not immediately available.

Fire coordinators said the van was coming back from a wildfire in the Boise National Forest about 25 miles northeast of the town of Cascade, Idaho. Wildfires have erupted in many parts of the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest this summer, but recent rains have helped firefighters gain ground on many of the blazes.


University seeks honor for Bethune

COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina’s African-American Studies program wants to honor Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights crusader with an endowed professorship.

Organizers are trying to raise a $2.5 million endowment honoring the crusader, the child of former slaves who taught black children in South Carolina and Georgia before creating a trade school that eventually became Bethune-Cookman College.


Town to miss Japanese students

SWEETWATER — Japan’s first accredited high school in the United States is set to close in 2006 after almost two decades, but already this small East Tennessee town is lamenting the loss of students who have broadened cultural horizons and boosted the economy.

“We learn from them, as well as they learn from us,” said Betty Howard, who owns a beauty shop near the campus of Tennessee Meiji Gakuin.

“There is nothing that can replace that school,” said John Kidd, a retiree who with his wife, Rosemary, are among hundreds of host families for the students. Mr. Kidd said the Japanese students are frequent weekend guests at his farm. All the Japanese students live in dorms on the hilly, 144-acre campus. The school also employs 57 persons.

The school’s governing board in Japan, where it is accredited, has voted to close the campus in 2006, probably because of declining enrollment. She said enrollment peaked at 198 students before the September 11 attacks but has dipped to about 100 students.


Governor pardons 35 in drug arrests

TULIA — Thirty-five persons who were convicted in the 1999 Tulia drug arrests have been pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry, who says he was influenced by questions about the testimony of the lone undercover agent who made the arrests and was later charged with perjury.

“I believe my decision to grant pardons in these cases is both appropriate and just,” Mr. Perry said in a statement last week.

Of the 46 persons arrested in July 1999, 39 were black, which led civil rights groups to question whether the arrests were racially motivated.

In June, Mr. Perry signed a bill allowing the release of the 12 Tulia defendants who were still in prison.


‘Polygamy summit’ draws officials

SALT LAKE CITY — Law enforcement officials from Utah and Arizona planned to gather in St. George for the so-called polygamy summit, a meeting to help authorities identify and pursue abuse cases arising from multiple-marriage communities.

The meeting Friday is expected to focus on towns where most residents belong to the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Autistic boy dies at prayer service

MILWAUKEE — An autistic 8-year-old boy died while being restrained during a church prayer service held in an attempt to cure him, and one man connected with the small storefront church was arrested, police and a church official said yesterday.

The boy’s mother took him to the Faith Temple Apostolic Church for the prayer service Friday night. Several church members prayed over him for more than an hour until someone noticed he wasn’t moving and called 911, said Bishop David Hemphill Sr.

Mr. Hemphill said the boy and his mother had been going to the prayer services for the past three weeks. Members of the church, made up of just six families, prayed for God to release the evil spirits that cause the boy’s illness, he said.

Police would not say what charges the man faced, only that they were awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Police would not identify the man who was arrested, but Mr. Hemphill said it was his brother, Ray Hemphill, another minister at the church.

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