- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

GEORGIA

Farm show to highlight GPS-guided tractors

MOULTRIE — Darrell Williams spent part of his childhood behind a mule, plowing the fields on his family’s tobacco farm.

“It was hot,” he said. “I had to follow that plow and that mule. There was no air conditioning on that plow and no shade.”

Now, with the arrival of Global Positioning System technology, Mr. Williams, 59, is witnessing another major agricultural advancement — tractors that can steer themselves far more precisely than even the most experienced human operators.

Tractors outfitted with GPS have been showcased at farm shows for a couple of years, but this is the first year that workers used one to plant the peanuts that will be harvested during the 26th annual Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. The expo runs from Oct. 14-16 at Spence Field near Moultrie.

HAWAII

Bounty hunter returns after catching rapist

HONOLULU — The bounty hunter who captured fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster has returned home to Hawaii, despite a possible bail violation for missing a court appearance in Mexico.

Mexican immigration authorities issued an alert Tuesday when Duane “Dog” Chapman, his brother and his son failed to show up in court there, where they were accused of illegally detaining Mr. Luster in late June.

But Mr. Chapman dismissed the claims Friday after arriving at Honolulu International Airport from Los Angeles, saying no court date was scheduled.

He told reporters that his attorneys were handling the issue.

ARIZONA

Museum director resigns in artifacts dispute

FLAGSTAFF — The director and all 16 trustees of a Southwest history museum resigned under pressure over the selling of museum artifacts to cover a $1 million deficit.

Denise Colton, whose grandfather founded the museum 75 years ago as a repository for Southwestern art, Indian artifacts and prehistoric objects, said she hoped the resignations last Friday would give the Museum of Northern Arizona “a chance to regain its heritage and its mission.”

The museum’s leadership came under fire after 21 of the museum’s artifacts were sold to raise operating money, its geology department was closed and paleontologist David Gillette and his research staff were fired.

CALIFORNIA

Hollywood’s famous sign celebrates birthday

LOS ANGELES — The world famous “Hollywood” sign, which sits on a hill here overlooking the home of movie-making, celebrated its 80th birthday yesterday with a large cake, live music and historians.

The huge white letters that stand 42 feet in height originally had four extra letters and read “Hollywoodland.”

The original sign was erected in 1923 by Harry Chandler, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, to advertise land for new homes.

Built for an initial cost of $21,000, the letters have since become an international symbol for the mystique of Hollywood and film-making.

CONNECTICUT

Officials to monitor inmate Internet mail

HARTFORD — The state Department of Correction said it will begin monitoring inmate mail from Internet pen pal sites.

The move comes days after it discovered that convicted killer Sol Dos Reis was soliciting female pen pals. Dos Reis is serving 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting and killing a 13-year-old Danbury girl he met on the Internet.

DELAWARE

Legionnaires disease increasing this year

DOVER — The number of reported cases of Legionnaires disease has risen sharply this year, baffling federal and state health officials.

The number of cases of Legionellosis reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year totaled 624 as of last week, compared to 436 for the corresponding period last year.

In some regions of the country, the numbers are double or triple those reported at this time last year. Officials say the cases appear to be random, and that they have not identified any specific outbreak or source of the bacteria that causes the disease.

FLORIDA

Cuban plane fetches $59,100 in auction

KEY WEST — A Soviet-era aircraft used by a Cuban hijacker in April to get to the United States has fetched $59,100 in an Internet auction on EBay, almost 10 times the amount first paid by the seller for the aging plane.

The winning bid in the 10-day auction that ended late Saturday night came from a pilot in Washington state, according to the seller, Matthew Overton, a 25-year-old pilot and auto mechanic in Greeley, Colo.

Mr. Overton bought the Antonov-24 for $6,500 in June through a government auction in Key West. The plane was used by hijacker Adelmis Wilson Gonzalez, 34, who was convicted by a Key West jury last week of air piracy. He faces 20 years to life in prison.

INDIANA

Homes may get free water connection

ELKHART — Homes near a closed toxic landfill would be connected to the city’s water system for free under a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Polluters at the former Himco landfill would pay to have the homes connected. Residents would pay their own water bills.

Toxicologists say the water isn’t toxic but recommend drinking municipal water.

KENTUCKY

Presbyterians pick panel to probe abuse claims

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will appoint a committee to investigate allegations of physical and sexual abuse of missionary children in Africa between the 1950s and 1980s.

The new panel’s first task will be to look at reports of abuse at missionary boarding schools in Egypt and Cameroon.

The charges were initially made to another committee that was formed to report on abuse of missionary children in Congo between the 1940s and 1970s. Last year, that committee recommended a broader church probe into charges of abuse against missionary children.

MAINE

Lawmakers devising tax reform proposal

AUGUSTA — Lawmakers are running out of time to put a tax reform proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Lawmakers want a referendum proposal to compete against a citizen initiative that seeks to reduce property taxes by boosting the state’s share of local education costs.

Election officials say they need the proposal by Aug. 15 to get it on the ballot.

MICHIGAN

Police shoot, kill standoff fugitive

FREMONT — A fugitive who slipped away from his home during a deadly police standoff early last week was shot and killed by police yesterday morning, officials said.

Scott Allen Woodring, 40, had been charged with killing Trooper Kevin Marshall during the 40-hour standoff. He had barricaded himself in his rural home July 6 as police attempted to serve a felony arrest warrant.

Yesterday, police received a tip that he was in a vehicle behind a house, about four miles southwest of his Dayton Township home.

MINNESOTA

Minister calls for probe of human rights abuses

MAPLEWOOD — A Lutheran minister released from a Laotian prison after international pressure gave thanks Saturday for his safe return, and called for an investigation of human rights abuses in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Rev. Naw-Karl Mua and two European journalists — sentenced to 15 years in the death of a Laotian village guard — were freed following diplomatic efforts. Mr. Mua, 44, of St. Paul, was back home Thursday.

At a news conference Saturday, Mr. Mua said he did not admit guilt to gain his freedom, but that a diplomat may have done so for him.

NEW MEXICO

Escaped inmate turns himself in

GALLUP — The last of four inmates who escaped from the privately run McKinley County jail on July 4, getting a three-hour head start because guards didn’t miss them, was back in custody yesterday.

Eric Leyba, 18, turned himself in at the jail sometime during the night, said a jail officer who identified herself only as Sgt. Mariano.

Leyba, who was being held on a murder charge, was one of four inmates who escaped from the lockup on Independence Day after being left unsupervised in a recreation yard.

NEW YORK

Financier buys $45 million condo

NEW YORK — In what a real estate broker calls the costliest apartment sale ever in New York City, an unidentified British financier has agreed to pay $45 million for a Manhattan penthouse.

With 25-foot glass walls and a wraparound terrace, the two-floor condominium offers 360-degree views of Manhattan, including Central Park and the Hudson River.

The 12,600-square-foot property is one of 10 penthouses topping the two towers of the AOL Time Warner Center that’s nearing completion at Columbus Circle, near Central Park’s southwest corner. The complex will be headquarters to AOL Time Warner and also house restaurants, stores and residences.

OREGON

Forest Service fights illegal mud-bogging

UKIAH — A red Dodge pickup, its windows shattered and tires gone, sat in a crumpled heap in a northeast Oregon meadow, miles from anywhere.

But what caught the eye of Robert Wolfe Jr., a law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service, was the mud, splattered in great globs on the truck’s exterior.

Mr. Wolfe began the hunt in Umatilla National Forest for another elusive mud-bogger. Mud boggers romp through wet areas like meadows, ponds and springs in heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles to see whose rig can plow the deepest into molasses-thick mud and emerge unscathed — or at all. Often they are testing their horsepower illegally in fragile wetlands and riverbeds on public land.

WASHINGTON

Homes evacuated near wildfire

YAKIMA — About 20 houses were evacuated yesterday in a remote area of south-central Washington and officials were concerned about others as a wildfire spread rapidly in nearby timber.

The blaze near Tampico, 20 miles west of Yakima, had burned 1,200 acres yesterday, up from 300 to 500 acres the day before, said David Widmark, spokesman for the Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center in Portland, Ore.

In southern Arizona, where firefighters have been battling a blaze on Mount Lemmon since mid-June, a second night of rain helped crews get closer to containing the wildfire that had destroyed hundreds of homes, officials said yesterday.

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