- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2003


Sculpture said to lack likeness to King

ROCKY MOUNT — Some residents say the new sculpture of Martin Luther King in the Rocky Mount park bearing his name has one little problem — it doesn’t look anything like him.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said 71-year-old Samuel Gray. “That’s not Doctor King. There’s no likeness. None.”

Mr. Gray said he thinks the city — which unveiled the statue last month — should either replace it or get back the $55,800 it cost.

City Parks and Recreation Director Pete Armstrong said he was satisfied with the sculpture, created by Erik Blome of Figurative Art Studio in Crystal Lake, Ill.

“It’s a work of art,” Mr. Armstrong said. “It’s an artist’s interpretation of the spirit of King. I think it’s wonderful.”


Longtime reporter found dead in home

SALT LAKE CITY — Authorities were investigating the death of a newspaper reporter whose body was found at her home early Wednesday.

Police consider Norma Wagner’s death suspicious, said Salt Lake City Police spokesman Detective Kevin Joiner. Further details will be furnished once the state medical examiner releases an autopsy report.

Mrs. Wagner’s husband called 911 about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and said his wife may have died, Detective Joiner said. He said Mr. Wagner had been interviewed by police.

Mrs. Wagner, 41, a longtime Utah journalist, most recently worked as a general assignment reporter at the Deseret Morning News.


City defeats ban on charitable gaming

NOME — City voters defeated a measure to prohibit charitable gaming. Only 121 residents, or about 15 percent, supported the proposal; 704 people voted no.

The proposition would have outlawed bingo, pull-tabs and raffles.

Nome collects about $400,000 in taxes annually from gaming.


Airport screeners fired for security violations

LOS ANGELES — More than one of every 10 security screeners at Los Angeles International Airport were fired or had their badges revoked for security violations, mostly failure to submit to fingerprinting, officials said.

The disqualification of 285 of the 2,615 federal screeners will probably mean longer lines during the Fourth of July weekend, said Brian Sullivan, a retired FAA special agent specializing in risk management.


Death toll rises from fireworks explosion

BONITA SPRINGS — A fifth person died yesterday from a series of fireworks explosions that began as workers moved an Independence Day display from a truck.

The bodies of the four other victims remained at the Gulf-side scene overnight because investigators were worried that some of the fireworks could still detonate. The fifth victim, Ken Kinard of Cocoa Beach, died early yesterday in a hospital burn unit.

The workers were transferring the fireworks Wednesday when a series of powerful blasts erupted, shooting flames into the sky and shaking the ground.

The fireworks were to be part of the annual Independence Day display today in nearby East Naples. Officials said the event had been canceled.


Bride and groom walk aisle at Kmart

STATESBORO — Attention Kmart shoppers: There’s a wedding ceremony in the patio furniture department.

Edna Cross had worked in the Statesboro Kmart for eight years. When she got engaged, she decided to hold the ceremony in the store to share the experience with friends.

Her fiance, Lowman Stephens, had some concerns about saying “I do” surrounded by customers chasing down blue-light specials. But he came around soon enough.

A sign over the store’s entrance invited customers to attend the ceremony.


City approves Sunday liquor sales

LAWRENCE — The Lawrence City Commission unanimously approved Sunday liquor sales.

State law bans liquor sales on Sunday, but several cities in eastern Kansas have cited home-rule laws and approved the sales.

The cities say residents are driving across the Missouri state line to buy alcohol on Sundays and taking money out of the state.


Lawyer moonlights as a comedian

BAY CITY — Sylvia Linton finds plenty of fodder for her night job while serving as staff lawyer for a local judge.

When she isn’t researching and writing legal opinions for Bay County Circuit Judge Lawrence M. Bielawski, she is writing jokes.

She made her third local appearance Saturday at the Split-a-Gut Comedy Club. While there’s no shortage of lawyer jokes, she also mines the crime docket for material.

On Saturday, she poked fun at the would-be robber who held up the business where he worked. While his face was masked, he wore his uniform — complete with name tag — during the heist. Then there was the bank robber who targeted his local branch and wrote the stickup note on his own deposit slip.


Albuquerque residents conserving water

ALBUQUERQUE — Halfway through the year, Albuquerque residents are using less water than in any year since 1990, officials say.

That’s despite below-normal rainfall and a 10 percent increase in water customers over a decade.

Albuquerque began conserving water in 1995. It set a 10-year goal of cutting use from about 250 gallons to 175 gallons per person per day.


For caretaker, Lady Liberty is sacred

NEW YORK — When Charlie DeLeo prays, he is closer to heaven than many people — more than 300 feet above New York Harbor, atop the Statue of Liberty.

“She’s my chapel, a sacred place,” says the 55-year-old Mr. DeLeo. “I often say my prayers up there. I pray that all countries would enjoy the same freedom I have in America.”

For 27 years, Mr. DeLeo worked as a maintenance man for the statue that welcomed millions of immigrants to America, including his grandparents from Sicily and Greece. But even after his retirement in 1999, he could not stay away from “the Lady” — his name for the monument he has scaled about 2,500 times.

Mr. DeLeo keeps coming back. He has climbed the statue’s girders to paint her crown, scaled her skin and rescued injured seagulls that crashed into the windows. He has replaced the floodlights that illuminate the 24-carat gold-leaf flame, and cleaned the crown’s 25 windows and seven spikes.

With the current maintenance man, Jeff Marrazzo, Mr. DeLeo still changes the torch bulbs.


Former Army POWs honored at ceremony

EL PASO — Several former Army prisoners of war, including a still-recovering Spc. Shoshana Johnson, stood at attention under a blazing sun Wednesday to receive medals for their service in Iraq.

Spc. Johnson, who was shot in the ankle when the 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed March 23 near Nasiriyah, wavered slightly while balancing on a walking cast. Gen. Larry Ellis, commander of Army Forces Command, steadied her as she received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal.

She was among 10 soldiers from the 507th, stationed at Fort Bliss, who received medals for their actions before and after the ambush. Seven were taken captive, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who continues to recover in a Washington hospital.

Spc. Johnson, 30, of El Paso, said she was only doing her job: “I’m a soldier. That’s all there is to it. I’m a soldier like so many others.”


Permits increase for moose hunting

MONTPELIER — The moose population in Vermont is expanding with the annual hunting season.

The Fish and Wildlife Department plans to raffle off 440 moose-hunting permits this year, up from 365 last year. The season will be expanded from four days to six beginning Oct. 18. The department estimates there are more than 4,000 moose in the state.


Judge rules inmates can get bulk mail

SEATTLE — State prison inmates should be allowed to receive bulk mailings and catalogs, a federal judge has ruled in a First Amendment case brought by a newspaper specializing in prisoner rights.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik overturned a long-standing ban by the Washington state Department of Corrections.

Eldon Vail, Corrections Department deputy secretary, said the ruling could increase opportunities for contraband and tie up staff with extra work.

In a November 2001 lawsuit, the Prison Legal News said the agency was violating the paper’s right to distribute political speech. Mailroom workers at prisons, the suit said, were tossing out subscription renewal postcards, book order forms and other notices often mailed to the paper’s readers at bulk rates.

The judge’s order, issued June 17, does not affect the department’s authority to censor material that contains pornography or hate speech, or is about crime.


Cities challenging the census

SHEPHERDSTOWN — While more than 400 students call the three Shepherd College yellow-brick dormitories home a good part of the year, they were not counted by the 2000 census as residents of this small town along the Potomac River.

Only after local officials supplied the Census Bureau with proof were the students counted as residents and the town reaped $30,000 in revenue from a nearby casino.

From wire service dispatches and staff reports.

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