Thunderstorm disrupts Junior Miss broadcast
MOBILE - California’s Andrea Finch won the 46th America’s Junior Miss competition and a $50,000 scholarship - but many television viewers missed the crowning moment.
The program was broadcast live Saturday night on PAX TV, but a thunderstorm at the network’s West Palm Beach, Fla., master-control center disrupted the satellite feeds just before the second runner-up was announced, Junior Miss officials said.
People watching the show live in the Eastern and Central time zones missed the big announcements. PAX and Junior Miss officials repackaged the final segment for viewers in the Mountain and Pacific time zones watching on tape delay.
A Junior Miss spokesman said phone calls came flooding in, particularly from New York viewers who were anxious to see whether their representative, Kelly Bit, had won. She was the first runner-up behind Miss Finch, 18, of Indio, Calif., and won a $15,000 college scholarship.
Rap impresario reportedly arrested again
LOS ANGELES - Rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight reportedly has been arrested a second time this year on charges of violating parole.
Police arrested the 37-year-old founder of Death Row Records Friday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Calls to the police and the district attorney weren’t immediately returned yesterday.
The Times reported that Knight was jailed without bail, but the county jail inmate information Web site didn’t show a booking. Knight’s lawyer, Robin Yanes, said Sunday he wasn’t notified that his client had been arrested.
Knight completed 61 days in jail earlier this year after a state prison board found that he had associated with a known gang member in violation of his probation.
Online courses to help students meet standards
JUNEAU — Alaska educators hope new online courses will help students, especially in small rural schools, meet state standards and be prepared for college. The courses will also help schools obey new federal requirements to use highly qualified teachers.
Alaska Online, a consortium of nine school districts, has been offering a pilot program of 21 courses for high school students for a year and will start officially this fall, the Juneau Empire reports.
Alaska teachers developed most of the courses, many of which are in English and math. Alaska Online officials said the students will be enrolled in regular schools but need courses that aren’t offered locally or don’t fit into their class schedule.
“Our main focus and purpose has been to provide distance education service to small rural schools,” project director Michael Opp said.
Incentives offered to spur blood donations
SCOTTSDALE — United Blood Services is offering incentives to people who donate blood.
Gifts include Phoenix Coyotes pre-season tickets. Arizona faces its most critical blood shortage during the first week in July.
Trinity College president to retire amid unrest
HARTFORD — After a turbulent year as president of Trinity College, Richard H. Hersh said yesterday that because of his tense relationship with faculty and students, he will resign, the Hartford Courant reports.
“It’s clear my style became an issue,” Mr. Hersh said from his office, where he was notifying key Trinity supporters and officials of his decision to step down no later than Aug. 15.
Mr. Hersh had taken a controversial, high-profile stand on issues such as alcohol abuse and racism on campus as he pursued directives from the private college’s board of trustees to reinvigorate Trinity’s intellectual standing.
The resignation comes after faculty members held a frank meeting with trustees to complain about his direct, sometimes blunt approach — a style that alienated many faculty members and students.
Gov. Bush concerned about nudist camp
MIAMI — Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has expressed concern about the potential for “inappropriate or illegal behavior” at a nudist camp for teenagers in the state.
But, responding to a complaint by Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, the governor also pointed out that state law “does not criminalize mere nudity.”
In a letter to Mr. Foley made public yesterday, the governor’s office said authorities were reviewing records to determine whether there had been any reports of child abuse related to a nudist camp for children ages 11-18 near Tampa.
Mr. Foley, co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’ Caucus, recently wrote to the governor, saying the very nature of the camp amounted to exploitation of the children, who risked being exposed to pedophiles.
Atlanta leaders desire return of streetcars
After a 40-year hiatus, the streetcar appears to be on the comeback track in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution reports.
A group of business, community and political leaders is in the final stages of forming a private, nonprofit organization to explore laying track and putting streetcars on Peachtree Street from downtown to Buckhead.
“I would say it’s a 70 to 80 percent chance a streetcar will roll down Peachtree in the next five years,” said City Councilman H. Lamar Willis, who chairs the council’s transportation committee.
NASA awards university $5 million to study life
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is awarding the University of Hawaii $5 million during the next five years to study life in the universe.
The university is one of six newly selected Astrobiology Institute Lead Teams. The UH team will be led by Institute for Astronomy researcher Karen Meech, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. UH scientists will be involved in research programs focusing on water’s role in providing habitat and chemical reactions to support life, according to a news release.
Telescopes on Mauna Kea will be used to observe the distribution of water in interstellar gas clouds and comets and in disks around young stars.
Adults face youths in reading contest
POCATELLO — Even the adults in American Falls will be able do some serious reading this summer.
At the American Falls District Library, children will race the adults during a summer reading program to see who is the best reader, according to the Idaho State Journal.
Children Services Coordinator Louise Chandler said the contest will bring both children and adults into the library. One hundred ten children and 54 adults have signed up for the program.
“The children get really excited. They want to beat their parents,” Miss Chandler said.
Gay director’s firing splits congregation
ROCKFORD — When the choir rose to sing Sunday at Holy Family Catholic Parish, it was not part of the program. It was a protest.
The firing of a homosexual music director has split the congregation at Holy Family, the largest Roman Catholic church in this industrial city of 150,000.
Bill Stein, the music director and organist for five years, was fired June 17 after he refused church leaders’ request that he promise to lead a “chaste” life ? a vow he equated with giving up his partner of 10 years, Manny Ahorrio.
Mr.Stein said he neither flaunted nor hid his relationship; a few parents learned he is homosexual when they heard he was trying to adopt a child.
“I was fired based on church law. There was no mention of Gospel. There was no mention of what Jesus taught us: compassion, love, forgiveness and charity,” Mr. Stein said.
Executive pleads guilty to federal bank fraud
KANSAS CITY — A former bank president charged with fraud pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of making false entries and insisted his co-defendant, the former head of Kansas’ largest utility, had nothing to do with the crimes.
Clinton Odell Weidner II, former president of Capital City Bank in Topeka, entered his plea before jury selection began for his trial and that of David Wittig, former chief executive of Westar Energy.
Although he pleaded guilty to two federal bank counts, Weidner remains on trial because he still faces one count of conspiracy and one count of money laundering. Mr. Wittig also faces those counts, as well as four counts of making false bank entries, reports and transactions.
Arboretum at university destroyed by vandals
LEXINGTON — Vandals wrecked a University of Kentucky arboretum, pouring bleach into a fish pond, overturning flower pots and knocking over rock walls. Arboretum director Marcia Farris said it was the third act of vandalism in recent weeks. She was not sure how much the damage would cost to repair.
Terrell to seek attorney general post
BATON ROUGE — Republican Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, who lost last fall’s U.S. Senate race to Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu by 42,000 votes, said last week that she will seek the office of state attorney general in the Oct. 4 primary.
Although the attorney general has limited criminal jurisdiction in prosecuting and investigating cases, Miss Terrell said she will form a strike force of lawyers and investigators to work with local district attorneys and police to investigate complex crimes and major drug cases, the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports.
The task force, she said, will be used “to fight crime that plagues our communities.”
Virgin Mary likeness said to be caused by chemicals
MILTON — The likeness of the Virgin Mary in a window at Milton Hospital is likely the product of a chemical deposit, not a miracle, according to the Archdiocese of Boston.
Since the image appeared three weeks ago, more than 40,000 people have thronged to see it.
Poverty prevents parents from paying child support
LANSING — Nearly 75 percent of the state’s $7 billion child-support debt is owed by parents who earn less than $20,000 a year, state records show.
Some officials say those parents are not likely to obtain enough money to repay that debt. Data from Michigan’s Office of Child Support show that impoverished parents often can’t even keep up with interest.
Man fleeing police drowns after driving into lake
St. Paul authorities were trying to identify the body yesterday of a man who drowned after he drove into Lake Phalen while being chased by police, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
A squad car with two officers began pursuing the man’s vehicle about 12:45 a.m. yesterday after a minor traffic offense, said Sgt. Rick Anderson. Officers followed the suspect westbound and didn’t discover until afterward that the vehicle was stolen.
The chase covered about a mile then both vehicles went over a steep embankment and landed in the lake, but only the suspect’s vehicle became submerged, he said.
Gaming officials increase cost of renewing licenses
Casino employees are upset about the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s decision to increase the cost of renewing gaming licenses for the first time, making it more expensive for 8,800 Coast residents to work.
Beginning Today, it will cost $125 to renew a license for three years. A license now costs $75, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.
All employees directly involved in gambling must have a license, including slot technicians, table game dealers and even bartenders in video-poker lounges.
Tougher laws sought to curb drunken drivers
CONCORD — Attorney General Peter Heed wants to toughen drunken-driving laws to curb repeat offenders.
Under current law, someone accused of driving drunk for a third time faces a misdemeanor. Mr. Heed wants to make it a felony. That would mean a state prison term of at least a year, instead of a shorter county-jail sentence.
Petition prepared to force tax action
CARSON CITY — Gov. Kenny Guinn, Republican, said he’ll immediately seek Nevada Supreme Court intervention if state lawmakers did not deliver by midnight last night a tax plan that would balance the state’s record $5 billion budget.
Mr. Guinn, who supports an $860-million-plus tax package, said he remains hopeful that a compromise can be reached in the state Assembly but that if that doesn’t occur, “I am prepared to take action” today.
Mr. Guinn said he’s been working with Attorney General Brian Sandoval on a court petition that would argue that legislators have a constitutional duty to approve adequate public school funding by today, the start of the new fiscal year.
Famed shore nightclub to be sold to developers
ASBURY PARK — The owner of the Stone Pony, who once said waterfront developers would obtain control of it “over my dead body,” has agreed to sell to them, putting the famed shore nightclub’s future in jeopardy — again.
Domenic Santana will sell the building and transfer its liquor license to Asbury Partners, a company overseeing a $1.2 billion makeover of the city’s decrepit waterfront.
Under the sale agreement, Asbury Partners could demolish the building or build a new club elsewhere in the city and call it the Stone Pony, while Mr. Santana would be allowed to use the name to promote concerts, he said Monday.
Famous as a former stomping ground of Bruce Springsteen and other Jersey rockers, the club was the subject of a grass-roots “Save the Stone Pony” campaign after it appeared headed for demolition as part of the waterfront development.
Oxycontin abuse is increasing
BISMARCK — Oxycontin abuse is on the rise in North Dakota.
Police say they’re seeing more people selling the prescription painkiller on the streets, and addicts burglarizing businesses and homes to obtain the drug.
Doctors and pharmacists say they’re having a difficult time figuring out whether patients really need OxyContin when they request the painkiller.
Haunted restaurant destroyed by fire
WAXAHACHIE — A major fire erupted Sunday night at the Catfish Plantation restaurant, a 108-year-old Waxahachie landmark known for being haunted, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The flames broke out about 9:45 p.m. at the Victorian-style home-turned-restaurant and spread quickly to the roof and attic, Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins said yesterday. At one point the flames were so bad, firefighters were called out of the building.
Sections of the wood-shingled roof that held a heating unit and chimney collapsed into the restaurant, said Chief Hudgins, who added that it was not clear what started the blaze. The rest of the approximately 3,000-square-foot building sustained smoke and water damage.
“They don’t know if it’s salvageable,” owner Jimmy Poarch said. “We don’t know if we are going to be able to rebuild. It’s a hell of a sight.”
State orders well owners to reduce radium in water
More than 50 owners of public and private wells in Wisconsin must decide by December how they intend to reduce the amount of radioactive radium in drinking water served to their nearly 500,000 residents, the state Department of Natural Resources says in notices of violation mailed this month.
Waukesha alone faces a price tag of $75 million to $135 million for the compliance options being studied by the city, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Replacing wells or installing treatment systems to remove radium and reduce the lifetime risk of cancer for residents could cost the municipalities or other owners of wells hundreds of millions of dollars in the next three years as they work to meet a December 2006 deadline, local officials said.