- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2003


Trooper killed trying to stop driver

MONTPELIER — A driver who had fled after he was pulled over for speeding struck and killed a veteran trooper who was trying to stop his car, authorities said.

State Police Sgt. Michael Johnson, 39, had placed spike strips on Interstate 91 in Norwich on Sunday to stop motorist Eric Daley, 23, police said. Mr. Daley swerved to miss the spikes, struck Sgt. Johnson as he tried to take cover, then got out of his car and fled into a wooded area, police said. A search for the suspect continued yesterday.

Sgt. Johnson died Sunday at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

Mr. Daley, driving a 1991 Nissan NX Coupe, had been stopped for speeding by another trooper about 3:45 p.m. State police said he fled south about five miles until he came to the spikes Sgt. Johnson had placed on the highway to puncture his tires.


Cloudbursts cause flash flooding

CHARLESTON — Rescuers had to scrounge for boats yesterday as flash flooding forced rural residents out of their homes and blocked the road to the city’s airport. Employees at a FedEx depot had to retreat to the roof as the water rose.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries as water rushed down creeks and roads in rural areas of Kanawha County west and north of Charleston, and in Nicholas County to the east.

The two counties got 2 to 3 inches of rain between midnight and noon. The ground was already saturated by heavy rain during the past week.

Rescue workers using boats picked up more than 30 residents in the community of Pinch, just north of Charleston, said Sonny Wagner, volunteer fire chief. “We have high water all around us,” he said.

State Police Sgt. Michael Johnson was killed Sunday after he was struck by a car traveling across this strip of median on Interstate 91 in Norwich, Vt.


Rudolph’s attorneys waive right to hearing

BIRMINGHAM — Serial-bombings suspect Eric Rudolph has waived his right to a bail hearing in Alabama because it is clear he would not be granted bail, his attorneys said yesterday.

Court officials canceled a bail hearing that had been scheduled for today in Birmingham, where Mr. Rudolph faces federal charges in the January 1998 bombing of an abortion clinic that killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Rudolph is also accused of three other bombings in the Atlanta area, including one at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and will be tried separately in Georgia on those charges.

Once on the FBI’s most-wanted list, Mr. Rudolph, an Army veteran and experienced survivalist, was arrested May 31 while scavenging for food in a town in the mountains of Western North Carolina. He had been on the run for five years.


School district adopts antibullying policy

GREENWOOD — Greenwood School District officials say that when schools open this fall they will have a policy to stop bullying behavior.

The one-page policy defines the behavior and calls for disciplinary action that could include expulsion.

The policy requires teachers and other school employees to report the behavior to a school principal.


Woman, 97, graduates from high school

RICHMOND — At 97, Gustava Bennett Burrus is the oldest person to graduate from Richmond High School.

The great-great-grandmother walked across the stage at Richmond Auditorium Saturday to accept an honorary diploma at the San Francisco Bay area public school, which was founded two years after her birth.

“My dream has come true,” Mrs. Burrus said.

Mrs. Burrus, whose education was cut short in the fourth grade, began attending computer classes at the high school in January. It was her third time taking courses there in the past decade.

Mrs. Burrus was born in 1905 in Louisiana and was one of 10 children in a family of sharecroppers. Two years later, her family moved to rural Oklahoma. She attended school in a one-room schoolhouse in Boley, Okla., until her parents pulled her out to help support the family.


Mayor recognizes homosexual celebration

COLORADO SPRINGS — Weeks after fulfilling a campaign promise to end city insurance benefits for same-sex partners, Mayor Lionel Rivera signed a proclamation recognizing the annual gay PrideFest celebration.

The move has angered some religious conservatives who helped elect Mr. Rivera.

The previous mayor recognized the festival.


Mom’s boyfriend charged in toddler’s death

MIAMI — An 18-month-old boy died after his mother’s boyfriend punched him in the stomach while baby-sitting him, police said yesterday.

Police said Terric Jeffrey, 18, damaged Leon Leonard III’s liver and caused internal bleeding.

Police said they are not sure when the injuries occurred. But hospital employees noticed bruises on the child’s face and called police Saturday. The mother told them the boy had fallen.

Mr. Jeffrey was charged with murder and child abuse. Lt. Bill Schwartz said the mother, Monique Johnson, 22, could be charged for leaving her son with Mr. Jeffrey, not the boy’s father, even though she had seen him abuse the boy on previous occasions.


Ossabaw island visits to be allowed

OSSABAW ISLAND — After years of restricting visits, the state will allow more than 2,000 people to explore Ossabaw island this year.

A 15-minute boat ride from Savannah will bring visitors to one of the last untouched places left in Georgia.

The island is home to more than 150 federally protected loggerhead turtle nests, 17,000 acres of fragile salt marshes and more than 200 archaeological sites.


‘Trading Spaces’ star visits furniture outlet

HONOLULU — Not only can Vern Yip design a room, he can fill it, too.

More than 500 people flocked to a new furniture outlet Saturday for a chance to meet Mr. Yip, one of the stars of TLC’s interior decorating show “Trading Spaces.”

“First, everyone wants to know if the show is really as much fun as it seems,” Mr. Yip said of the enthusiastic crowd. “Then they all want to know if we’re ever coming to Hawaii to film.”

On the show, two sets of neighbors have two days to redo a room in each other’s houses on a $1,000 budget with the help of a few professionals.

Lisa Holland, an account manager with the Discovery Network, which produces the show, said the show receives about 500 online applications a day.

“When we get enough interesting applications from here, we’d definitely like to come,” she said.


State more urbanized, government declares

BOISE — Federal officials say that 3 in 5 Idahoans now live in a metropolitan area.

Population growth rates across Idaho have reached 2.1 percent during the past three years, compared with the 1.2 percent national average.

The federal Office of Management and Budget declared that four metropolitan areas in Idaho will be added to the 370 across the nation.


Governor signs prescription-drug bill

CHICAGO — Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law yesterday creating a prescription-drug “buying club” designed to reduce the cost of medicines for the elderly by as much as 30 percent.

Supporters say club members will have more clout as a group than as individuals and will be able to negotiate lower prices from drug companies. The state will negotiate for bulk discounts on behalf of the club.

“Our senior citizens will be better off today than they have been in a long, long time,” said Mr. Blagojevich, who campaigned on lowering drug costs for the elderly.

The elderly and the disabled will pay $25 a year to join the club starting Jan. 1.


College develops wine industry courses

DUBUQUE — Increased interest in starting a home-grown wine industry has prompted Northeast Iowa Community College to begin developing classes on grape growing and wine production.

College President Rob Denson said the Internet courses will be combined with laboratory and field experience at Iowa vineyards.

College officials hope to begin enrolling students in the program next summer.


Airport receives funds for security improvements

WORCESTER — Worcester Regional Airport has received $213,800 in federal and state money for security improvements even though the airport no longer offers commercial passenger service.

Officials at the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport, welcomed the grant money. It said the airport is still an active field.


Child’s body found buried in back yard

DETROIT — A woman was in custody after police found her 21-month-old son’s body in a shallow grave in the family’s back yard Sunday.

Homicide Inspector Craig Schwartz told Detroit television station WJBK that the woman was in custody Sunday night and was expected to be arraigned yesterday. Police did not say what charges she would face.

The boy’s body was found after his grandmother asked police to check on him after not seeing him for several days, police said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how or when the boy died, though investigators said it appeared he was smothered before being wrapped in a tarp and buried.

Detroit television station WXYZ reported that the 30-year-old mother had a history of mental illness and had told relatives that the boy was visiting his father.


Chimney Rock landmark suggested for quarter

BAYARD — Chimney Rock would be a good design for Nebraska’s commemorative quarter, suggested Nebraska historian and design committee member Gordon Howard. The landmark served as a guide for wagon train travelers in western Nebraska.

The quarter will be released in 2006.


Governor calls special budget session

CARSON CITY — Gov. Kenny Guinn, Republican, called for another special session June 25 after the first one did not pass his $4.9 billion budget.

Mt. Guinn said that if the Legislature doesn’t reach a compromise before the start of the new fiscal year, there is no way he can legally disburse education funds. That could force some schools to close.


City, farmers devise water-supply scheme

LAS CRUCES — The city is working with agricultural interests to secure water for its growing population.

The city, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and the state engineer devised an agreement for getting water from farmland that is not likely to be cultivated much longer.

City officials and farmers in the lower Rio Grande Valley believe the approach could be followed elsewhere.


Five bodies pulled from swollen creek

BINGHAMTON — A car plunged into a creek swollen after heavy rain, killing five persons including a teenage baby sitter and two small boys.

Dozens of deputies, state police and volunteer firefighters searched Colesville Creek and a portion of the Susquehanna River about 15 miles east of Binghamton, finding the last two victims yesterday morning.

Authorities believe the car went off the road Friday evening. The search began Saturday morning after police responded to a call of a car with its headlights on in the creek. The vehicle was empty when police searched it.

“This road is out in the middle of nowhere. Where they were going and why they were out are questions we haven’t answered,” Broome County Sheriff David Harder said.

Investigators believe the car was traveling on a road next to the creek and ran into an area that had been washed out. From 3 to 4 inches of rain fell Friday night.


Sheriff on his own after budget cuts

POMEROY — Budget cuts forced Meigs County Sheriff Ralph Trussell to lay off his staff of 13 deputies and dispatchers. Now he is working all by himself.

Mr. Trussell said he will cover as much of the county’s 429 square miles as often as he can with the help of local authorities and the State Highway Patrol. He has told residents to call him on his cell phone if they need him.


Council member seeking population-count change

OLYPHANT — A council member is on a crusade to get the federal government to say this Lackawanna County borough has at least 5,000 people.

Council member Bill Shanley said that would make federal officials consider Olyphant a community of significant size, possibly making it eligible for more government funding. The count from the 2000 census stands at 4,995.

Mr. Shanley said the number climbed past 5,000 last month when he got the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize that 17 persons were overlooked because their ZIP code is for neighboring Jessup. Mr. Shanley said the bureau might have missed three to 10 other homes in Olyphant.

“They’ve made an exceptional effort here to get a proper count,” said Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, a Democrat whose district includes Olyphant. His office is analyzing how much money the borough is losing by having its population counted below 5,000.


Two firefighters die battling store blaze

MEMPHIS — Fire swept through a discount store on the city’s north side, killing two firefighters when the roof collapsed.

Lt. Trent Kirk and firefighter Charles Zachary were among three firefighters who had been searching the burning Family Dollar store Sunday evening to make sure no one was trapped, Memphis Fire Services Director Chester Anderson said yesterday.

Cashier Julie Davis said the back of the store contained many flammable items.

The store was closed for the day, but officials feared — wrongly, as it turned out — that a cleaning crew or managers might be working late, Mr. Anderson said. While Lt. Kirk, Mr. Zachary and firefighter Timothy Scott were searching, a section of the roof collapsed. Mr. Scott escaped and was treated at Regional Medical Center and released.


Immigrant-smuggling suspect indicted

HOUSTON — Authorities arrested the suspected leader of a smuggling operation that trapped dozens of immigrants in a stifling truck trailer last month, killing 19, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

In announcing the arrest of 25-year-old Karla Patricia Chavez, 25, accused of being the operation’s leader, U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby also unsealed a 58-count indictment accusing her and 13 others of having roles in the smuggling mission that ended May 14 when a truckload of immigrants was discovered in a trailer abandoned at a truck stop in Victoria, 100 miles southwest of Houston.

Seventeen immigrants died at the scene, and two others died later.

Federal prosecutors said yesterday that Miss Chavez was arrested trying to enter her native Honduras from Guatemala. Authorities in Guatemala deported her to the United States on Saturday, and U.S. immigration agents arrested her in Houston hours later.


Smallpox vaccines offered to stave off monkeypox

MADISON — State health officials offered smallpox vaccinations yesterday to people who have been in contact with animals or people infected with monkeypox.

Herb Bostrom, director of the state Bureau of Communicable Diseases, did not release figures on how many were eligible. He said, “The numbers are very, very small.”

About 90 people who were eligible had been told the shots were available at a clinic Saturday, but none came, according to Milwaukee’s health commissioner, Dr. Seth Foldy.

Monkeypox, a West African disease not previously seen in the Western Hemisphere, is related to smallpox but is not as lethal. It causes rashes, chills and fever.

By yesterday, state health officials had confirmed 15 human cases of the disease in the United States: seven in Wisconsin and four each in Indiana and Illinois.

Prairie dogs sold as exotic pets are believed to have been infected in an Illinois pet shop by a Gambian giant rat imported from Africa. Federal officials said the prairie dogs may have been sold to buyers in 15 states.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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