- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

LOUISIANA

Judge ousted over campaign work

NEW ORLEANS — A judge who forced his employees to work on his re-election campaign and then lied about it was thrown off the bench yesterday by the state Supreme Court.

In a 7-0 decision, the high court removed State District Judge C. Hunter King of Orleans Parish from office and barred him from running for a judicial office for at least five years.

Mr. King initially denied any wrongdoing, but admitted everything after learning the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, which investigates judicial misconduct complaints, had recordings of his staff meetings.

WASHINGTON

Sandbags stacked as Skagit River rises

MOUNT VERNON — Volunteers stacked sandbags on levees yesterday as the Skagit River rose toward an expected major flood crest after the second torrential rainstorm in the Pacific Northwest in less than a week.

Flood warnings were posted along 11 rivers in western Washington. Record amounts of rain fell Monday on the region, where the ground already was saturated by a storm Thursday that was blamed for one death, flooding, road washouts and mudslides.

The Skagit was expected to crest during the night at 38 feet at Mount Vernon, 10 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service said.

ALABAMA

Blinded Israeli boy undergoes surgery

BIRMINGHAM — A 10-year-old Israeli boy who was blinded in a Palestinian bombing that killed his father and four other relatives this month underwent surgery yesterday to determine if his vision can be restored.

Oran Almog was brought to Alabama for treatment by Dr. Robert Morris, who said the prospects of restoring Oran’s sight wouldn’t be known until after the operation, performed at Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Oran arrived in Birmingham on Sunday accompanied by his maternal grandparents, according to Aviv Ezra, Israeli vice consul in Atlanta.

ALASKA

North Pole receives state security grant

FAIRBANKS — North Pole, long declared the official home of Santa Claus, might also be considered a terrorist target, says the Alaska Division of Homeland Security, which recently awarded the town of 1,700 a $557,400 grant.

A nearby oil refinery and the town’s location between Army and Air Force bases make the community vulnerable, state officials say. The money will go to the North Pole Fire Department for new communications and firefighting equipment.

COLORADO

Sleeping man gets automotive visitor

LONGMONT — At first, Douglas Taylor thought it was a bad dream. A gas-line explosion. His house caving in. He jumped out of bed and sifted through the bricks, thick dust and fallen timber.

He saw a 1998 Nissan Altima parked halfway into his bedroom.

A man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol had been trying to elude officers, a police report said. The driver lost control and crashed into Mr. Taylor’s bedroom last week.

MINNESOTA

Clerical workers hit picket lines

MINNEAPOLIS — About 1,800 clerical workers took to picket lines yesterday after contract negotiations broke down between their union and the University of Minnesota, the first strike at the university in nearly 60 years.

The workers, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, went on strike at campuses in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Morris and Crookston.

University President Robert Bruininks said the school’s proposed two-year contract has a salary freeze in the first year, a 2.5 percent increase the second year and an increase in the employee share of the health-care premium. He said the increased cost would be offset by a $200 one-time payment to all employees, but the union said the offer wasn’t enough.

MONTANA

‘Fishless’ streams found teeming

HELENA — The first known survey of Montana’s officially “fishless” prairie streams has discovered they are teeming with numbers and varieties that surprised state fisheries officials.

The 18,000 miles of waterways were labeled “fishless” because no one had ever checked, officials said.

Ten species qualify a stream as diverse; many of the small prairie streams had 30. Most of the fish were no more than two or three inches long when fully grown. The teams found fish such as the fathead minnow, the longnose dace and sand shiner.

NEBRASKA

Divers find ring lost in deep water

LINCOLN — The depths of Jeff Sohl and Rebecca Fringer’s commitment were sorely tested.

Mr. Sohl and Miss Fringer were out fishing recently with another couple when her engagement ring fell into deep water at a lake near Fremont. But they didn’t give up.

Instead, they reached scuba divers Archie Arnt and Chris Pro, who own Midstates Underwater Engineering and Salvage and are accustomed to fishing big things out of water, such as boats. They’d never found an itsy-bitsy ring 17 feet down in pitch-black water. But they met Miss Fringer and Mr. Sohl three weeks ago at the lake and found the spot where the ring went down.

Mr. Pro and Mr. Arnt donned their scuba gear and used a special underwater metal detector. Seventeen feet down, with no light, they began scouring the area inch by inch. Then Mr. Arnt heard a beep. He dug in the muck. Four inches down, he felt it.

Up they came, breaking the water, grinning behind their masks, 37 minutes after making the plunge.

NEW YORK

Boy, 14, killed while ‘subway surfing’

NEW YORK — A 14-year-old boy who was “surfing” on the roof of a subway train was killed when his head struck an overhead beam and he fell to the tracks.

Eric Alvarez of Harlem was found dead on the tracks between two stations in Lower Manhattan at about 4:45 p.m. Monday, said Detective Carolyn Chew.

While Eric was riding home from school, his friends dared him to climb atop the train, a practice known as “subway surfing,” said Marisa Balde, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit.

OKLAHOMA

Photo exhibit pulled after complaints

ARDMORE — A museum closed a photography exhibit after visitors complained about some of the prints, which included nude figures. The exhibit, “4 Photographers, 4 Visions,” was on display at the Charles B. Goddard Center.

It contained 80 contemporary black-and-white photographs by four Oklahoma City artists. One of the photographers used mirrors to distort nude human figures into abstract forms.

OREGON

Principal to kiss frog in ceremony

PORTLAND — Ridgewood Elementary School Principal Arlene Hirsch may not turn her frog into a prince, but kissing it will make her popular among her pupil public.

The head of the Oregon City school will kiss a frog during a special assembly.

She promised the amphibian smooch if the children raised $20,000 through the school’s annual gift-wrap sale.

They did more than hold up their end of the deal, bringing in more than $28,000 for the PTA. She will make good on her pledge a week from Friday, kissing the frog on Halloween.

WEST VIRGINIA

Powerball winner shuts down site

CHARLESTON — Powerball winner Jack Whittaker has temporarily shut down his philanthropic organization’s Web site to allow staff to catch up on thousands of requests for financial help, an employee said yesterday.

Mr. Whittaker established the Jack Whittaker Foundation after winning a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day, the largest undivided jackpot in the game’s history. The Scott Depot resident was a millionaire businessman before he claimed his winnings as a $113 million nonannuitized cash option.

The foundation has given away about $4 million, and continues to get about 1,000 requests for money each week. Because of the volume, it stopped taking new requests in June. It will begin taking requests again when the staff gets caught up, said a foundation spokesman who did not want to be identified.

“At this time, the foundation cannot determine when the Web site will be back up,” the foundation said yesterday in a news release.

WISCONSIN

Jailed Scouts sell cookies, raise money

UNION GROVE — The country’s first Girl Scout troop in a correctional facility is making money. Troop 344, at Southern Oaks Girls School, sold $2,361 worth of cookies to inmates in 12 prisons this year.

The troop of 12- to 19-year-old girls started in 1997, and enables incarcerated girls to earn badges and work on community projects.

Southern Oaks officials say the troop, comprising young women ages 12 to 19 who are considered the state’s most dangerous, could not survive without the cookie sales.

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