- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

CALIFORNIA

Power outage hits San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly 50,000 customers were still without power in San Francisco yesterday after a substation fire left one-third of the city in the dark and wreaked havoc on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The power outage, which hit 119,000 businesses and residences at its peak, disrupted transportation, and forced shopping centers and restaurants to close. The hardest-hit areas were the civic center, the financial district and the Mission district.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lynch participatesin book signing

ELIZABETH — Hundreds of Jessica Lynch’s neighbors waited for hours in snowy conditions during the weekend to see their hometown hero, a former prisoner of war, at a book signing at the high school where she graduated.

About 300 people came to Wirt County High School for the event, some carrying up to a dozen copies of “I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Bragg.

Miss Lynch, who declined news interviews, used the occasion to make the first award to her alma mater from the Jessica Lynch Foundation: a $5,000 check to be used for college scholarships.

ALASKA

Anchorage develops plan to prevent rapes

ANCHORAGE — A special police unit is being formed to try to reduce the number of rapes in Alaska’s largest city. Part of a plan issued by Mayor Mark Begich, the unit will coordinate community and police efforts to help prevent rapes and related crimes, such as domestic violence.

Recent federal data show that the rate of rapes in Anchorage from 1982 to 2001 was on average 122 percent higher than the national rate.

ARIZONA

New bishop installed in Phoenix diocese

PHOENIX — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix installed a new bishop during the weekend to replace Thomas O’Brien, whose tenure included charges of abuse by priests and his arrest in a deadly hit-and-run.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted, the bishop of Wichita, Kan., becomes the new spiritual leader of more than 470,000 Catholics in Arizona. He will try to move beyond a scandal that has dogged the diocese for several months.

FLORIDA

Air Force launches GPS satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL — A rocket lifted off early yesterday, carrying into orbit a satellite designed to increase the accuracy of global-positioning-system signals for military as well as civilian users.

The satellite will replace an older model that is running low on power, according to Air Force Col. Allen Ballenger, system program director for the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office.

The $45 million satellite has a life expectancy of about 10 years and is expected to be operational in 25 days or less. The Air Force pegged the mission cost at roughly $100 million, including the satellite, rocket and launch services.

KENTUCKY

Teen-driving law ruled unconstitutional

FRANKFORT — The state Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional a “no pass, no drive” law designed to use driving privileges to spur teens to stay in school and make passing grades.

The court noted that the law applied only to students in school districts with alternative-education programs. In other districts, students who dropped out or were academically deficient did not lose licenses. Thus, the law “violates the basic and fundamental right to equal protection under the law,” the court’s majority said in an opinion by Justice Martin Johnstone.

ILLINOIS

Holiday-themed train surprises commuters

CHICAGO — You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen … but how about an open subway car that pulls Santa Claus and his sleigh through grimy, dark tunnels at 50 mph?

The brave Santa is just one feature of the Holiday Train, which zips through the city’s subway and on top of its elevated tracks, surprising commuters and delighting youngsters.

Holiday music booms over the speakers, hand rails are wrapped in red-and-white paper to look like giant candy canes, and jolly ol’ St. Nick — wearing his seat belt, of course — rides on a sleigh placed on an open flatbed car in the middle of the train.

IOWA

Fire breaks out in turkey plant

POSTVILLE — Flames erupted in a turkey-processing plant closed for renovation, bringing out firefighters from nearby Wisconsin and forcing holiday traffic from two highways to be rerouted, authorities said.

The fire at Iowa Turkey Products started about 12:30 p.m. Saturday and took much of the afternoon to bring under control, officials said. Small flare-ups still were occurring early yesterday.

Fire departments from about two dozen communities in northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin responded to the call. Postville is in the northeast corner of Iowa, about 25 miles from the Wisconsin border.

MAINE

Growers using science to perfect trees

CHINA — Clark Granger stands in his snowy field, looking with pride upon thousands of budding Christmas trees. At 5 years old, they are bigger and thicker than a typical balsam fir, and when they hit the market in two years, Mr. Granger doesn’t expect to see a sad-looking Charlie Brown tree in the bunch.

The firs represent the latest selective breeding efforts by Maine growers to produce a tree that grows faster and denser, drops fewer needles, resists pests and requires less trimming.

Other growers nationwide also are tapping science to produce better trees and entice customers away from artificial trees, which represent the majority of Christmas trees displayed in homes.

Weir Tree Farms in Colebrook, N.H., came up with a Fraser-balsam combination that has the fragrant smell of balsams and the needle retention of Frasers.

NEW JERSEY

Utility ordered to beef up transmission

NEWARK — Regulators ordered Jersey Central Power & Light Co. to spend as much as $10 million to upgrade the power-delivery system along the Jersey Shore.

The action came in response to blackouts in several Ocean County resort towns during the Fourth of July weekend.

JCP&L; said it will add two power lines to feed towns north of the Island Beach State Park.

The Board of Public Utilities also ordered the state’s second-biggest utility to give workers additional training, improve emergency-response system and set up a regional dispatch center to cut response times for outages.

NORTH CAROLINA

Principal orders editorial removed

DURHAM — A high school principal ordered the student newspaper to remove an editorial questioning why a relative of a nominee for homecoming queen had been allowed to help count votes.

“The purpose of the newspaper is to encourage, not to put people down,” said Principal Larry McDonald of Southern High School. “It’s not to belittle and berate your classmates.”

The author of the editorial, senior Tamara White, said she had wanted to tell students the full story behind the selection.

She had written in the Spear & Shield that the faculty member in question shouldn’t have counted votes.

OHIO

Web database lists sex offenders

COLUMBUS — Ohioans can use a new Web database to see information about convicted sex offenders in their state’s 88 counties. Gov. Bob Taft, Republican, signed a bill creating the database in July.

Ohio’s largest counties have registries on sheriffs’ office Web sites, but eSORN is the first such statewide database. The database is available through the attorney general’s Web site at www.ag.state.oh.us.

PENNSYLVANIA

Re-enactors boycott Washington’s crossing

UPPER MAKEFIELD — Longtime re-enactors of George Washington’s Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River are boycotting the event this year to protest actions by a state park administrator.

The event commemorates Washington’s 1776 crossing to New Jersey that led to crucial victories in Trenton and Princeton and reversed the declining fortunes of the Continental Army.

Members of the Washington Crossing Re-Enactors Society have organized the event for much of its 50-year history, using their own uniforms and at times paying to buy or restore boats. However, Michael A. Bertheaud, site administrator for Washington Crossing State Park, took control last year, saying he wanted to give other re-enactors a chance to play more visible roles.

“After everything I’ve done over the years and all that the society has done to bring this historic event before the public every year, he shows us no respect,” said Lonzie Rinker, a retired Bucks County Community College science professor who has trained crew members.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Janklow files motion seeking acquittal

FLANDREAU — Rep. Bill Janklow filed a motion asking that he be either acquitted of second-degree manslaughter or granted a new trial, saying prosecutors didn’t present enough evidence to establish his guilt.

Janklow, convicted Dec. 8 for a traffic crash that killed a motorcyclist, filed the motion for acquittal on Friday.

During the trial, the defense had argued that Janklow, a diabetic, had not eaten the day of the crash and had low blood sugar when the collision occurred. Prosecutors said Janklow, South Dakota Republican, had been driving too fast and ignored a stop sign. A jury found him guilty.

Janklow plans to resign from Congress on Jan. 20, leaving South Dakota without a representative in the U.S. House.

TENNESSEE

Retiring mayor to teach at Harvard

KNOXVILLE — Retiring Mayor Victor Ashe said he has accepted an invitation to teach at Harvard next spring. Mr. Ashe, a former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will be a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. Ashe, 58, left office during the weekend after an unprecedented four terms as mayor.

TEXAS

Mounted police to aid airport security

HOUSTON — George Bush Intercontinental Airport officials, looking to bolster patrols of their 11,000-acre facility, have decided to hoof it.

A volunteer mounted police force called the Airport Rangers will patrol the perimeter of the city’s largest airport, the Houston Airport System announced last week.

“Horses can go where vehicles can’t go, and we can also have the ability of people riding through the woods,” said airport director Rick Vacar, who came up with the idea.

The mounted patrol, which will include off-duty law enforcement officers, will use trails being built around the airport. Watering troughs, toilets, trash containers and granite stones for sitting are being installed.

WASHINGTON

Electronic voting machines use unlikely

SEATTLE — Electronic voting machines are not likely to be used in statewide 2004 elections, Secretary of State Sam Reed said. He is asking the Legislature to select a method that provides a paper record of votes for better security.

The state primary is in September. Voting by mail is the most popular voting method in the state.

WISCONSIN

2 killed when plane crashes on lake

WEBB LAKE — A single-engine airplane crashed through the ice of a northern Wisconsin lake on Saturday, killing both people aboard, authorities said.

The Burnett County Sheriff’s Department said efforts were under way to recover the bodies of the two men, but those efforts were being hampered by a deep layer of mud on the lake bottom.

Sheriff’s officials said the 1963 Mooney aircraft took off from Voyager Village Airport, flew north, banked and apparently lost power.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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