- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2003

NEW YORK

Channel swimmer Gertrude Ederle dies

NEW YORK — Gertrude Ederle, who in 1926 became the first woman to swim the English Channel, died yesterday. She was 98.

Miss Ederle had spent the past several years living at the Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff, N.J.

In a roaring decade that cheered daredevils, few were as celebrated as Miss Ederle, who was 20 when she made history Aug. 6, 1926, with her swim.

“People said women couldn’t swim the channel,” Miss Ederle said in a 2001 interview. “I proved they could.”

When she returned to America, she was greeted by a ticker-tape parade in her native New York.

OHIO

Tests link 2 highway shootings

COLUMBUS — Tests on bullet fragments definitively link two of 11 shootings along a five-mile stretch of the highway that circles the city, authorities said during the weekend.

Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County sheriff’s office said two fragments were “a definite match,” but not enough was recovered from similar shootings to make further matches. Police said on Friday that a shooting on Tuesday that killed a 62-year-old woman wasn’t accidental and is linked to at least one other case.

The string of highway violence began in May, but most of the shootings have occurred in the past seven weeks.

ALASKA

Fire marshal halts ice-hotel construction

FAIRBANKS — The state fire marshal has put a freeze on construction of an ice hotel near Fairbanks, but the man behind the subarctic architecture still is chipping away.

The Alaska Fire Marshal’s office on Nov. 21 ordered a halt to construction of the planned Aurora Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort, citing unspecified building code and public-safety concerns.

The 30-foot-high, seven-room Gothic palace was intended to be a tourist draw similar to ice hotels in Scandinavia and Quebec.

Creator Bernie Karl is continuing work with champion ice carver Steve Brice, but now says what he is building isn’t a hotel, but one of Alaska’s largest works of art.

“Under my First Amendment rights, I have the right to create an ice sculpture, and that’s what we’re doing,” Mr. Karl told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for a story in Saturday’s edition.

Mr. Karl said the structure, which he expects to complete by Christmas, will be similar to the plans for the hotel.

CALIFORNIA

‘Flying’ maggots give students a scare

FAIRFIELD — Maggots turn into flies — but flying maggots?

Students in a Fairfield High School literature class got a scare last month when a half-dozen of the larvae fell through ceiling tiles onto their heads.

It was the “grossest experience” in the 17 years of David Day, who heard a little “boop” and looked down to see an inch-long maggot wriggling on the floor.

“Then one fell on a student on the back of his sweat shirt,” David told the Fairfield Daily Republic. “And one fell on his book.”

The students crowded to one side of the room before fleeing.

Pigeons were to blame. Several birds that roosted under the portable building’s roof died, and flies laid eggs in their corpses, said Bill Luna, director of administrative services. Somehow, the maggots fell through the tiles.

Maintenance since has condemned the portable building, which will be torn down during the Christmas break, said Rob Pierce, director of facilities and construction.

HAWAII

Ex-resort developer dies at 64

HONOLULU — Former Hawaii developer Chris Hemmeter, who built some of the islands’ largest and best-known resorts, including the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, died last week at his home in Los Angeles. He was 64.

Mr. Hemmeter had been battling Parkinson’s disease and various forms of cancer and needed a liver transplant.

Mr. Hemmeter moved to California 13 years ago but always considered Hawaii home. His 64th birthday party in Honolulu on Oct. 8 was attended by former Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano.

Mr. Hemmeter was best known for the extreme lavishness of his Hawaii hotels, built in the 1980s. Projects such as the Westin Kauai, Hyatt Regency Waikoloa and the Westin Maui helped publicize the state’s visitor industry and attract high-spending Japanese tourists, who fueled an economic boom.

In 1988, Forbes magazine listed Mr. Hemmeter as the 389th wealthiest person in the United States, with $225 million in assets.

IDAHO

Officials relocate confused grizzly bear

DRIGGS — Officials said the grizzly bear was confused.

That was why the bear had been hanging out in doorways and garages before wildlife managers from Idaho and Wyoming captured it and moved it out of state.

By now, most bears have found a place to hibernate for the winter.

Idaho Fish and Game biologist Gregg Losinski said this could be the 2-year-old bear’s first winter on her own, and her denning instinct might have been confused. He said the homes probably looked warm and inviting to her.

The bear is being moved to a remote location near Cody, Wyo.

INDIANA

High-tech sector survives downturn

INDIANAPOLIS — A national study found that Indiana’s high-tech economy weathered the economic downturn slightly better than its counterparts in other states.

The annual “Cyberstates” report by the American Electronics Association shows Indiana lost 6.8 percent of its high-tech jobs in 2002, compared with 8.3 percent for the nation as a whole. Indiana had 71,222 of the nation’s nearly 6 million jobs in fields such as electronics, telecommunications and engineering.

MASSACHUSETTS

Obesity surgery gains popularity

BOSTON — Ken Powers knew the dangers of having his stomach stapled, but to a man who had tipped the scales at 475 pounds, those risks didn’t matter.

“I had this thought: If I die on the operating table, having the surgery to try to better my life, I thought it was a better thing to do than to live the way I was living, which, in my opinion, I was kind of waiting to die anyway,” he said.

By the tens of thousands, morbidly obese people who have failed at diets, support groups and exercise programs are turning to surgery to lose weight.

In 1998, there were 25,800 obesity-related operations, most of them gastric-bypass procedures commonly known as stomach stapling. This year, the American Society for Bariatric Surgery estimates 103,200 operations.

Questions about the risks and growing use of the procedures surfaced in recent weeks after two patients in New England died during stomach-stapling surgeries. However, obesity specialists say the procedure is safer than it ever has been — and that is contributing to the growing popularity.

MICHIGAN

Admissions lag at university

ANN ARBOR — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forced the University of Michigan to change the way it judges student applicants has slowed down the school’s admission process.

As of mid-November, the school had admitted 500 students for its 2004-05 freshman class, compared with 1,500 at the same point last year.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the school’s point system that gave minority applicants a better chance of acceptance was unconstitutional. The justices affirmed the law school’s more individualized method of reviewing applicants, the model after which the undergraduate admissions method now is patterned.

Admissions Director Ted Spencer attributed the slower pace in part to an adjustment period his staff needs for dealing with more essays and to fewer applications turned in so far.

MINNESOTA

Project will send candy to Iraq

ST. PETER — Call it Operation Sweet Tooth.

Ernie and Bonnie Brandt are mailing more than a half-ton of candy to troops in Iraq, where their son, Don, is serving in Mosul.

If all goes well, the candy will arrive in Iraq around Christmas thanks to the Brandts and many of their friends.

“If not, I’m sure they’ll still enjoy it when they do get it,” said Mrs. Brandt.

The candy project was born of opportunity. Mr. Brandt was talking with owners of the recently closed Shari Candies plant in Mankato about buying some candy to send to the troops. Company officials liked the idea and gave him a good deal: He left with nearly two pallets of 2-pound bags of mixed candies.

Mailing the 29 boxes of candy will cost $1,000, and when word circulated among friends, other military families and business colleagues, donations began to arrive.

The couple has raised nearly enough to cover the postage.

NEW MEXICO

Explosives found in dry river bed

ALBUQUERQUE — Seven bags of the kind of explosive material used in the Oklahoma City bombing were found Friday in a dry river bed, days after they were stolen.

The bags, containing a total of 350 pounds of ammonium nitrate, had been stolen from an Albuquerque-based company that distributes explosives used in mining and construction.

The bags, stacked up off an embankment and partially covered with tree limbs, were found by people walking in Albuquerque’s western outskirts, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said.

“It was a pretty flimsy attempt to try to conceal it,” Sheriff White said. “One can’t help but think the situation became too hot, and the decision was made to dump it.”

NORTH CAROLINA

Billy Graham defends Gibson’s ‘Passion’ film

CHARLOTTE — The Rev. Billy Graham gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Mel Gibson’s biblical epic, “The Passion of Christ,” after a private screening with the movie star.

The film, which describes the hours before Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, has generated complaints from some Jewish leaders, who say it suggests Jews were responsible for Christ’s death. Conservative Catholics who have seen the film have called it powerful.

“The film is faithful to the Bible’s teaching that we are all responsible for Jesus’ death, because we all have sinned,” the 85-year-old evangelist said. “It is our sins that caused his death, not any particular group.”

In a statement released last week by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Southern Baptist also said he “was moved to tears” by the film.

Mr. Gibson spent a reported $30 million to produce the movie. Set for release on Feb. 25, the movie’s dialogue is in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic with English subtitles.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Family gathering returns after boycott

HILTON HEAD ISLAND — After four years, a family gathering that often swells to 300 people has returned to the island where it has been held for 14 years.

Barbara Carter and her sisters began organizing the gathering years ago, but it was moved when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a boycott of the state in 2000 because of the Confederate flag display at the Capitol. They returned to Hilton Head this year as support for the NAACP’s boycott wanes.

TEXAS

Runaway car crashes at busy intersection

TYLER — A car that drove out of control for nearly a mile smashed into a busy intersection on Friday, killing the driver, his wife and an infant whose car seat flew 20 feet into the roadway, police said.

Police said it was unclear how fast the car was going, but witnesses reported that it was traveling well above the speed limit when it struck nine cars, including one carrying the 8-month-old girl and two adults.

“That guy flew past us and cut through the intersection,” said Ivie Umphries. “He never even looked and had to be doing over 70 miles per hour.”

The infant died instantly, officials said. The child’s mother was among a half-dozen people injured in the crash.

Also killed were the driver, Billy Joe Hall, 75, and his wife, Genevieve, 85.

Authorities did not know whether the Cadillac was racing out of control because the driver fell ill or if it had mechanical problems.

VERMONT

Investor tries to reopen paper mill

MONTPELIER — Massachusetts investor Peter Hanson says he is back on board with plans to restart the former American Paper mill in Lunenburg.

Mr. Hanson said he planned to work on a deal with Dalton Hydro, the new owner of the mill. He plans to lease the mill from the hydroelectric company, which will continue to operate the dam on the property.

Mr. Hanson is working with officials in Vermont and New Hampshire to obtain a pair of $500,000 federal loans to help him start the plant, which shut down 18 months ago.

WASHINGTON

Small cargo plane crashes in fog

SPOKANE — A small cargo plane in heavy fog crashed on its approach to an airstrip Saturday morning, killing the pilot.

No one else was on board, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Don Walker said. No injuries on the ground were reported.

The AmeriFlight SW3 Merlin went down about a mile from Felts Field in a remote area north of Spokane, Mr. Walker said. Visibility was a quarter of a mile at the time, he added.

A witness reported hearing the plane strike trees before it crashed in a gully, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department said. Debris was scattered over about six acres when deputies and firefighters arrived.

Investigators with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene Saturday.

WISCONSIN

Christmas trees sent to White House

ENDEAVOR — Three Christmas trees from a family-run farm in Wisconsin are headed for the White House to serve as decorations for the holidays.

Friends and relatives joined tree-farm operators Jim and Diane Chapman last week as the trees were prepared for shipment from Silent Night Evergreens.

“It’s always nice to know where the trees are going to go,” Mr. Chapman said.

The family was expected to present a specially selected Fraser fir to first lady Laura Bush this morning. The 18-foot tree will be carried to the White House in a horse-drawn wagon and will grace the White Houses’ Blue Room. The second tree will stand in the Oval Office, and the third will be the first family’s private tree.

The trees were being transported over the weekend.

The Chapmans’ trees were picked for the White House after one of Silent Night’s evergreens won a national Christmas tree contest.


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