- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003


Slave cemetery preserved by descendant

SNOW HILL — Born into slavery, Mike and Phoebe — who never had last names — were buried among other slaves in unmarked graves scattered deep in an Alabama pine forest.

The hillside cemetery was long lost under dense growth. For a time, a landowner prohibited relatives from coming near. Then, a decade ago, a descendant of Mike and Phoebe rediscovered the cemetery.

Donald Stone began clearing the area and recently got word that he can fence the property, to keep the logging trucks away.

For Mr. Stone, 67, the cemetery preserves the memory of two persons who found a way to be together after slavery separated them by hundreds of miles, and went on to create an extraordinary legacy.

It includes more than 900 descendants, among them the founder of the Snow Hill Institute, which won acclaim for its education of black children in the early 1900s, and, more recently, film directors Spike Lee and Malcolm Lee, both cousins of Mr. Stone.


Studdard wins ‘American Idol’

LOS ANGELES — Soul crooner Ruben Studdard narrowly beat North Carolina balladeer Clay Aiken to win television’s “American Idol” contest last night.

Millions of Americans cast their votes by phone in a special two-hour broadcast of the popular Fox TV show.

The months-long competition whittled the cast of singing hopefuls down to two finalists, and viewers chose Mr. Studdard, a stocky 25-year-old from Alabama, over Mr. Aiken, a lanky 24-year-old from North Carolina.

Singer Gladys Knight, a celebrity judge on the program, dubbed Mr. Studdard “the velvet teddy bear.”


College looking for nursing teachers

TUCSON — The University of Arizona’s College of Nursing has been unable to hire all the teachers it needs for an accelerated program that will turn out new nurses in just 14 months.

Dean Marjorie Isenberg said she’s having trouble attracting instructors because the salaries she can offer are so low. She has been able to hire only four of the seven new teachers she needs.

The accelerated program begins next month.


Opponents sue over voucher law

DENVER — A coalition of voucher opponents filed a lawsuit Tuesday to overturn the state’s landmark voucher law, arguing that it would violate the ban on public financing of religion.

“Religious schools should be funded by their supporters, not the taxpayers,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the plaintiffs. “If allowed to proceed, the Colorado voucher law will force school districts statewide to divert their limited funds into religious schools.”

Republican Gov. Bill Owens signed the Colorado Opportunity Contract Pilot Program into law last month, making Colorado the first state to take advantage of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing publicly funded vouchers for private schools.

The law, which would go into effect for the 2004-05 school year, makes private-school vouchers, or “opportunity scholarships,” available for students in 11 low-performing school districts.


Report seeks to push black male enrollment

ATLANTA — Peer pressure and lack of parental support are among the reasons fewer black men than black women choose to attend college, Georgia’s Board of Regents was told yesterday in a report examining the phenomenon and suggesting ways to correct it.

Another factor, the report said, is that as early as middle school, some black males are steered toward choosing vocational courses rather than those that will prepare them for college.

The board accepted the report and 15 recommendations, which call for new efforts to bring black males into Georgia’s 34 public colleges and universities. In 2000, black women outnumbered black men in the university system two-to-one — 28,000 to 14,000.

The recommendations range from public service announcements aimed at students, to assessments of how black men perceive the attitude towards cultural diversity at each of the state’s campuses.


Family volunteers local polling place

ELWOOD — People in this tiny eastern Iowa town say elections won’t be the same now that the woman whose garage was the local polling place has died.

Ruth Cain, 86, of Elwood died Saturday after surgery at University Hospitals in Iowa City.

For almost 20 years, 150-200 voters would file through her three-stall garage for a general election, said Clinton County Auditor Charlie Sheridan.

Mrs. Cain’s husband, Roy, set up the arrangement after Elwood’s school closed in the 1980s and the township lost its polling place, Mr. Sheridan said.

Roy Cain died several years ago, but Ruth Cain kept the tradition going. She even added a wall, insulation and heaters to keep people warm on chilly election nights, Mr. Sheridan said. Family members said the polling place will stay open as long as the property is owned by their family.


Couple offers to take wandering dog home

SOLOMON — A couple whose dog turned up 800 miles from home in Auburn, Ala., won’t have to take the more than 20-hour drive to retrieve their wandering beagle.

Another Auburn couple who already planned to travel to Kansas to visit relatives in El Dorado called Tim and Jennifer Cross after reading about their dog Norman in a local newspaper and offered to bring the dog back. The Crosses were scheduled to pick up their dog yesterday evening.

Mr. Cross last saw Norman on March 28, when he took the 8-year-old beagle and the couple’s other dog on a walk, off-leash, about a quarter-mile from their home, which is near Interstate 70. Norman showed up Friday outside an Auburn University computer repair shop.

The couple’s best guess as to how Norman found his way to Alabama was perhaps in the company of a truck driver or an Auburn University student returning east from a spring break skiing trip to the Rocky Mountains.


Dorm murder case sent to grand jury

BOWLING GREEN — A judge in this month’s fatal dormitory fire at Western Kentucky University found enough evidence against two young men yesterday to send their murder cases to a grand jury.

Acting at a preliminary hearing, District Judge JoAnn Spinks Coleman also denied a motion to set bond for Lucas Goodrum, 21, and Stephen Soules, 20, both charged with murder in the death of 18-year-old Katie Autry.

The grand jury would probably take up the case in a week.

Miss Autry, a freshman, was found beaten, stabbed and burned in her dorm room May 4. She died three days later.

According to police affidavits, Mr. Soules told police that he watched Mr. Goodrum rape, beat, burn and try to suffocate Miss Autry with a pillow. Miss Autry’s body was also doused with hair spray, court records show.


Mayor won’t seek re-election

LEWISTON — The mayor who set off a storm of controversy when he advised the Somali community to slow its migration to the area said he won’t seek a second term.

In a statement, Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond said he was confident he could win re-election this fall but had committed himself to serving one term when he ran for mayor. He also said he must focus on his law practice.

Mr. Raymond was out of town when his statement was issued Tuesday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Last fall, he drew an angry response from many in the city of 36,000 when he wrote an open letter to area Somalis asking them to slow their migration and pass word among family and friends that Lewiston was “maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.”

Mr. Raymond said his letter wasn’t meant to insult Somalis, but to call attention to the city’s financial status. At the time, more than 1,000 Somalis had moved to Lewiston in less than 18 months, and Mr. Raymond said the influx had strained the city budget.


Suit filed to get women drafted

BOSTON — A group of Massachusetts teenagers have filed a lawsuit to force the government to include women in the Selective Service System.

Combat roles played by female soldiers in the war with Iraq show the all-male draft registration is discriminatory, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued Monday.

The plaintiffs want combat-age women to be included in the national database that would be used if the draft is reinstated. Now, only men 18 to 25 are required to sign up for any future military conscription.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that a 1981 Supreme Court decision already upheld the Selective Service System. Judge Edward F. Harrington did not rule in the case.


Man pleads guilty to tainting beef

GRAND RAPIDS — A former grocery store worker pleaded guilty yesterday to lacing about 250 pounds of ground beef with insecticide, sickening 92 persons.

Randy Jay Bertram, 39, faces up to 20 years in prison for poisoning food with the intent to cause serious bodily injury. Defense attorney Larry Willey said Bertram had a dispute with a co-worker and thought the insecticide would get the co-worker in trouble.

Prosecutors say Bertram poured the insecticide into the beef as he prepared it for sale Dec. 31 at the Family Fare supermarket in Byron Center, just outside Grand Rapids.

The insecticide, called Black Leaf 40, uses high concentrations of nicotine as its active ingredient. The bottle warns that swallowing it could be fatal.

Bertram put the poisoned beef packages weighing one pound to three pounds, then watched as it was sold to the public, prosecutors said.


Youth tries to sell marijuana to sheriff

NAY-TAH-WAUSH — If you’re going to sell marijuana, you probably shouldn’t try to sell it to the sheriff.

Mahnomen County Sheriff Brad Athman said Tuesday he was motorcycling while off-duty over the weekend when a youth tried to sell him marijuana — not once, but twice — on the main street of Nay-Tah-Waush in northwestern Minnesota.

Mr. Athman said the youth tried to wave him over twice, and signaled that he had marijuana for sale by placing his thumb and fingers to his mouth in a smoking gesture.

Mr. Athman said he had a full-face helmet on, so he was unrecognizable.


Times names panel for scandal probe

NEW YORK — The New York Times yesterday announced a committee of 20 staff members and two outside news executives to investigate the Jayson Blair scandal.

The Times named retiring Associated Press President Louis D. Boccardi and Joann Byrd, outgoing Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial-page editor, to the committee.

The committee “will conduct a comprehensive review” of the Times’ newsroom policies, according to a memo to the newspaper’s staff.

Mr. Blair resigned May 1 after the newspaper found fraud, plagiarism, fabrications and inaccuracies in his articles.


County manager fired over computer porn

DANBURY — After a former county manager resigned, officials found he had spent 60 percent of his work hours downloading more than 27,000 pornographic photos onto his office computer.

Last week’s discovery caused Stokes County commissioners to reverse their decision to accept Craig Greer’s April 28 resignation. They fired him instead and took back a negotiated $37,000 severance package.

The cache was discovered by technicians after Mr. Greer resigned during a dispute with commissioners over the county’s budget priorities.


Farmer expands business with Web design

FARGO — With his crops devastated by disease and insects, March Stevens needed to try something new. He became a cyber farmer.

After designing his own Web page to promote his farm, he was asked by other farmers and business owners to help them with Internet sites. Now it’s a part-time business for Mr. Stevens, his wife, Marla, and daughter, Kim. They’ve created more than 50 Web sites.

“Not bad for a dumb dirt farmer,” Mr. Stevens said. “I guess it started out as stress relief from the real occupation.”

Most of his clients are in agriculture, although he has designed Web pages for a funeral home and the city of Glenburn, among others. He charges between $200 and $2,000, with the average Web site costing about $900, he said.


Buchanan named first woman publisher

CINCINNATI — Margaret E. Buchanan has been named publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first woman to have the job in the newspaper’s 162-year history. The newspaper’s parent, Gannett Co. Inc., announced the hiring in yesterday’s editions. She also will be the Enquirer’s president. She succeeds Harry Whipple, the Enquirer’s president and publisher since January 1992. Mr. Whipple, 55, has retired.


Suits claim bias at black biker fest

CHARLESTON — The NAACP claims in two lawsuits that Myrtle Beach authorities and a hotel discriminate against blacks during a biker rally held each Memorial Day weekend along the South Carolina coast.

The group said it also was filing a complaint with the state’s Human Affairs Commission, saying more than two dozen restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area closed last year to avoid serving blacks. Some of the restaurants named, including Denny’s and Red Lobster, said they were open.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and 18 persons filed the lawsuits Tuesday in federal court in Florence. The suits say bikers participating in the Atlantic Beach Bikefest are treated differently than the predominantly white bikers at the Carolina Harley-Davidson Dealers Association Myrtle Beach Rally held a week earlier.

The lawsuits accuse city officials and the hospitality industry of trying to discourage black bikers from visiting.


Agency ordered documents destroyed

AUSTIN — A commander with the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the destruction of all documents and photographs gathered in the search for the Democratic state legislators who fled to Oklahoma to block a congressional redistricting bill.

The order was issued via e-mail on May 14, a day before the Democrats ended their boycott and returned to Texas, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said.

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House floor in Washington pushed for more information yesterday from the Homeland Security Department on its role in the search.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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