- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Judge asked to delay removal of feeding tube

TAMPA — Gov. Jeb Bush asked a judge yesterday to delay setting a date for removal of a brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube so a guardian can be appointed.

In a letter to state Circuit Judge George W. Greer, Mr. Bush asked that Terri Schiavo be kept alive until a court-appointed guardian can “independently investigate the circumstances of this case and provide the court with an unbiased view that considers the best interests of Mrs. Schiavo.”

Mrs. Schiavo has been in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state since collapsing in 1990. Her heart stopped from what doctors believe was a potassium imbalance.

The 39-year-old woman has been at the center of a long legal battle between her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo. The parents want her kept alive; her husband says she never wanted to be kept alive artificially.

Judge Greer said he is bound by court rulings, probably will not delay removal of the tube and is “not inclined” to appoint a guardian.


Small plane crash kills 2 pilots

YARMOUTH - A commuter plane with just two pilots aboard crashed yesterday off Cape Cod after the crew reported an emergency and tried to return to the airport, authorities said. The pilots aboard the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D were presumed dead.

Recovery efforts were suspended for the night at about 7:30 p.m. without any bodies being recovered, said Mark Foley, a spokesman for the Yarmouth Fire Department.

The company, Colgan Air, identified the pilots as Capt. Scott Knabe, 39, of Cincinnati, and First Officer Steven Dean, 38, of Euless, Texas. The crash occurred about 250 yards from shore in 14 to 23 feet of water.


Lawyer asks dismissal in Rudolph case

BIRMINGHAM — A lawyer has asked a judge to dismiss a $115 million judgment against suspected abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, contending his client wasn’t properly served with the lawsuit and couldn’t defend himself.

Emory Anthony filed a motion Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, saying Rudolph wasn’t notified of the lawsuit in 2000 because he was a fugitive at the time.

Mr. Anthony also argues that Rudolph was prevented from defending himself during the trial because he is indigent and has been incarcerated.

Emily Lyons, a nurse severely injured by a 1998 bombing at a Birmingham abortion clinic, won the $115 million judgment Aug. 13. Circuit Court Judge Helen Shores Lee awarded $5 million more than had been requested filed by Mrs. Lyons and her husband, Jeff Lyons.

The judge set a Sept. 12 hearing on the motion.


Man saves girl from hot car death

CORONA — The little girl was slouched over on the passenger-side seat, wearing diapers and clutching cookies in her tiny hands.

When she didn’t respond to his taps on the window, Jeff Belmont sprang into action, he said. Mr. Belmont punched through the window, unbuckled her, wiped the glass from the girl’s body, lifted her out of the vehicle then ran into a department store carrying the semiconscious child.

The 2-year-old’s mother, Samantha Ward, 23, was arrested minutes later on suspicion of child endangerment. She had left the child in the front passenger seat of the car, the windows rolled up and the engine off for almost 15 minutes as she shopped, said Sgt. Tom Weeks. The temperature at the time was about 100 degrees, he said.

“Six more minutes and there could have been a possible death,” Sgt. Weeks told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “What [Mr. Belmont] did was save a child. He did an outstanding job.”


Limbaugh helps to keep GIs cool

WILMINGTON — A local woman’s stalled effort to send air conditioners to U.S. troops in Iraq got a jump-start this week with the help of conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

Frankie Mayo of Bear, whose son is stationed in Iraq, had sent about 500 donated air conditioners overseas before U.S. Postal Service officials halted the shipments two weeks ago, saying the chemical coolant in the units is considered a hazardous substance.

After the New Jersey-based company DHL Danzas Air & Ocean learned of her situation, the firm determined that, as a cargo carrier rather than a mail carrier, it was not subject to the same coolant ban and would be able to handle the additional 520 units. And, company officials said, as a military subcontractor, it could deliver the stockpiled units to Baghdad. The downside was that it would cost more than $71,000.

On Monday, Mr. Limbaugh’s show focused on the Bear homemaker’s effort.

Mrs. Mayo said that Mr. Limbaugh’s wife, Marta, told her and DHL officials that she had made arrangements to cover half the cost. DHL officials said late Monday they received that payment and plan to transport the air conditioners this week.


Accused drag racer to be tried as adult

LAWRENCEVILLE — A 16-year-old girl accused of killing two persons while drag racing in her parents’ BMW will be tried as an adult, a judge ruled.

Wendy Jennings could face more than 30 years in prison if convicted, rather than the five-year maximum sentence she would have faced as a juvenile.

Miss Jennings’ attorney, Walt Britt, said he would appeal Monday’s decision by a juvenile court judge.

Miss Jennings and 17-year-old Susan Osley, who has already been charged as an adult, were drag racing their BMWs in March when Miss Jennings’ car crossed the median and struck another car. Jacob Miller, 17, a passenger in her car, was killed, as was the driver of the other vehicle, 61-year-old Julia Burns.

Miss Jennings and Miss Osley have been charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, and racing. Miss Jennings will face additional charges of speeding, driving under the influence of marijuana and not wearing a seat belt, District Attorney Danny Porter said.


Public bus workers go on strike

HONOLULU — The public transportation system for Honolulu and the rest of Oahu came to a halt early yesterday when the union representing 1,300 bus workers went on strike, stranding tens of thousands of morning commuters on Hawaii’s most populous island.

Representatives of the workers and Oahu Transit Services Inc. negotiated behind closed doors for more than nine hours Monday but failed to come to an agreement by the midnight deadline.

Transit workers are seeking higher wages and benefits, demands that the company says it is unable to grant since the bus system faces a budget shortfall of $6.8 million.

Including round trips and transfers, passengers step onto a bus an estimated 250,000 times a day.


New ballpark in Gary attracting visitors

GARY — The appeal of Gary’s $45 million minor league ballpark is reaching beyond the city limits, officials said.

More than four-fifths of the roughly 140,000 people who saw a Gary SouthShore RailCats game this summer at the Steel Yard came from outside Gary.

“It’s changing people’s attitudes toward Gary,” Mayor Scott King said of the new ballpark.


Child support increases in state

JACKSON — The head of the state’s child-support division says $195 million was collected from absent parents during fiscal 2003. It marks the fifth consecutive year collections have increased, said Alsee McDaniel.

The child-support division locates absent parents, establishes paternity and enforces child obligations through the courts or other means.


Priest reinstated, abuse charge dropped

DOVER — Nearly nine months after he was removed from his parish, a Roman Catholic priest was reinstated because an investigation found insufficient evidence to support a 30-year-old sex-abuse charge.

The Rev. Paul Gregoire, 74, who served at St. Charles Borromeo Parish since 1993, was suspended in December after a woman reported that Father Gregoire had molested her as a child while he served in Seattle during the 1970s.

On Monday, Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack lifted the restrictions against Father Gregoire.

The evidence “is insufficient to support an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor,” said the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault, the bishop’s delegate for sexual misconduct. It was the only such charge made against Father Gregoire in his 48 years of ministry, Father Arsenault added.


Rutgers hosts cricket-spitting contest

NEW BRUNSWICK — The thought of it may bug some people, but New Jersey’s newest game has people spitting crickets.

A few dozen people puckered up for a cricket-spitting contest at Rutgers University last week as part of 56th annual educational clinic of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.

Tom Turpin, an entomology professor from Purdue University in Indiana, says he and his colleagues were looking for additions to their annual “Bug Bowl.” A mention of watermelon-seed spitting evolved into a discussion of which bugs would be good for spitting. Mr. Turpin suggested the brown house cricket because it is similar in size to a watermelon pit and holds its shape through freezing and thawing.

The first New Jersey title went to Chris O’Donovan of Cooper Pest Control in Lawrenceville, who spit his cricket 28 feet, 5.75 inches. He won a smiling metal cricket with a clicker hidden beneath.


Cold War-era bunker for sale near Charlotte

STANFIELD — It’s yours for a cool $1.5 million: a weed-covered, multilevel nuclear attack-proof bunker about the size of a Home Depot.

The Cold War-era relic was built in the 1960s for commercial as well as top-secret government use. AT&T; constructed eight such bunkers during the Cold War to ensure vital communications would survive disasters. The Stanfield site was the largest and cost more than $7 million to build.

The current owner, American Tower, wanted to trade the complex to the state for the right to put towers anywhere on North Carolina property.

Negotiations began to stall a few months ago. So the company started thinking about who else might be interested in a large underground bunker. Mike Flint, the company’s Carolinas general manager, slowly began to solicit bidders. Only one person has contacted Mr. Flint after a few recent ads.

“I thought a bank could use it,” Mr. Flint said. “It could be an archive for a number of things.”


Woman’s ashes end up at thrift store

COLUMBUS — Rocky Oldaker bought a wooden box for $2 at a thrift store because it looked interesting.

When he opened it, what he found inside was priceless to Linda Bigford: her mother’s ashes.

“I don’t think that is what someone’s life should boil down to … $2 at a thrift store,” said Mr. Oldaker, who bought the box along with a stuffed animal and a picture frame.

When he unscrewed the box bottom at home, Mr. Oldaker discovered a plastic bag of ashes and a note identifying them as those of June Peltier of Marion, Mich.

Mrs. Peltier, 77, died of natural causes Nov. 15, 1999, Mrs. Bigford said.

Mrs. Bigford, 56, said her sister, Melody Parker, was responsible for the ashes but the sisters haven’t spoken since Mrs. Parker moved to central Ohio in November.

Employees at the Village Discount Outlet said they don’t know how the box arrived there.


County unable to raise funds for 9/11 memorial

NORRISTOWN — Montgomery County officials say they haven’t raised any money for a memorial structure to display some pieces pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York.

A year ago, they unveiled a 15-foot steel beam from the Twin Towers and other items. They had been seeking $100,000 for a design competition.


Snake’s a suspect in missing-fowl case

NASHVILLE — When the chickens that typically congregate around Metro Police’s West Patrol sector began disappearing, Capt. Michael Mitchell figured a chicken hawk was to blame.

That’s until he found two 8-foot-long snake skins in the shrubs outside the station’s front door.

Capt. Mitchell said a local high school inspected the skins and determined they belonged to boa constrictors — snakes native to Central and South America that kill their prey by coiling around and suffocating it.

The sector’s wildlife adventures began months ago when someone apparently dropped off several chickens and roosters in the area. Officers at the station — located in a West Nashville park — began feeding the fowl.

Capt. Mitchell’s guess is the snake — which mainly eats birds and small animals — was once somebody’s pet.


Suit seeks removal of Bible at courthouse

HOUSTON — A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit to remove a religious memorial from the grounds of the Harris County Courthouse, saying she was prompted by the Alabama controversy over a Ten Commandments monument.

The lawsuit requests that county officials get rid of a King James Bible enclosed in glass atop a 4-foot pedestal outside the courthouse.

The memorial was erected in 1956 to honor a late Houston industrialist for his contributions to a homeless program.

Houston real estate agent Kay Staley, who is a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said she filed the lawsuit Monday out of alarm over the Alabama controversy.

In Alabama, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been ordered by a federal judge and his fellow state justices to remove a 2-ton Ten Commandments monument he had erected in the rotunda of the state judicial building.


Officials to go to jail for fund-raiser

SPRINGFIELD — Officials at the new southern state correctional facility are offering a night behind bars as a fund-raiser and opportunity to help prison officials prepare for the jail’s opening in early October.

Volunteer prisoners will be booked, fingerprinted, issued jumpsuits and escorted to the cafeteria for a dinner party.

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