Record halibut caught off St. Paul Island
ANCHORAGE — What might be the largest Pacific halibut ever documented was pulled from the Bering Sea off St. Paul Island by the crew of the fishing boat Miss Mary.
The 8-foot-2-inch behemoth was estimated at 533 pounds — based on its length, said crewman Barry Davis of Anchorage. He provided photographs of the fish taken aboard the long liner skippered by his brother, Pat, from Seattle.
No official records are kept on the size of commercially caught halibut in Alaska, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Notebook Series says the “largest ever recorded for the Northern Pacific was a 495-pound fish caught near Petersburg.”
The fish caught on Sept. 5 was 2 inches longer, at 98 inches. It outweighs by almost 75 pounds the sport-fishing record, set by Jack Tragis of Fairbanks near Dutch Harbor in 1996. That halibut tipped the scales at 459 pounds.
Paragould rated as state’s safest city
PARAGOULD — Paragould is the safest in Arkansas among cities larger than 20,000 people, the Arkansas Crime Information Center says.
Rates are calculated by adding reported crimes in eight categories: murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, automobile theft and arson. Paragould had a crime rate of 15 incidents per 1,000 persons. The state average is 39.3.
Eagle County airport to get new tower
EAGLE — The Eagle County Airport, which now serves 14 cities in the Vail area, is getting a new tower and a customs agent to handle private jets flying in from outside the country.
The $2.2 million air traffic control tower will be operating in November, and the U.S. Customs Service will begin full operation this winter.
Law school dean wants Indian center
STORRS — The dean of the University of Connecticut’s School of Law is looking for $2 million to create an academic center for American Indian law focusing on Eastern tribes. Nell Jessup Newton said similar centers already exist for Western tribes.
The center would look at land claims, federal recognition, gaming and tribal governance.
Father suspected in drowning of toddler
MAITLAND — A man suspected of drowning his toddler daughter and attempting to drown his 4-year-old son killed himself yesterday by swerving into the path of a tractor-trailer, authorities said. His two other children were injured in the crash.
Police believe the drowning and crash that killed Bryan Christopher Randall are the result of a dispute with his estranged wife.
The accident happened about eight miles north of the small lake where Randall’s 2-year-old daughter, Yanna, and 4-year-old son, Regal, were found Sunday morning by a fisherman. The boy was in critical condition yesterday, and an autopsy was to be conducted on his sister.
Investigators said the crash occurred after Randall parked in his sport utility vehicle on the eastbound shoulder of Interstate 4 and made a hard left turn into the path of an oncoming truck hauling cars.
Thunderbirds jet crashes at air show
MOUNTAIN HOME — A jet in the Air Force’s vaunted Thunderbirds flight unit crashed at an air show Sunday, but the pilot ejected with only minor injuries, and no injuries on the ground were reported.
About 85,000 spectators looked on as one of the six Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons performing crashed during the “Gunfighter Skies 2003” air show at Mountain Home Air Force Base, about 50 miles southeast of Boise.
Capt. Chris Stricklin, 31, ejected safely and was taken to a medical facility on the base, where he was evaluated and released, the Air Force said.
Witnesses said the jet was the last of six to take off and climbed straight into the sky. The pilot maneuvered the jet into a dive and steered toward the crowd. The jet seemed to experience an engine failure when the pilot tried to pull up, witnesses said.
Two boys watching train are killed
DE WITT — A freight train struck and killed two boys Sunday as they were watching a train go by in the other direction, police said.
The boys, 12 and 13, were supposed to be swimming but instead walked along Union Pacific railroad tracks in De Witt, an eastern Iowa town about 20 miles from the Mississippi River. Their names were not released.
The train’s engineer followed emergency procedures but was unable to stop the train before it struck the boys, police said.
Earlier, a freight train crew reported that some children standing alongside the tracks were throwing rocks at a train. Railroad dispatchers notified trains in the area, Union Pacific said.
Ex-deputy gets life in slaying of sheriff
SOMERSET — A former sheriff’s deputy was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for helping plot the assassination of his chief political rival — an incumbent sheriff killed by a sniper at a campaign rally.
Jeff Morris won’t be eligible for parole for at least 25 years in a plea bargain that spared him the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to complicity to murder Sheriff Sam Catron to improve his chances of winning election.
“I am sorry that it went as far as it did,” Morris said in court, turning to Sheriff Catron’s family. “I hope and pray to God that you can forgive me sometime in your heart.”
As part of Morris’ plea, he agreed to testify against a remaining defendant, Kenneth White, a campaign donor to Morris who reportedly was angered by the longtime sheriff’s antidrug efforts. Mr. White faces trial Nov. 3 on a murder charge, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Seniors required to apply to college
POLAND — Poland Regional High School now requires seniors to submit applications to at least one college, university or trade school.
The school provides financial help with fees, and students don’t have to be accepted to satisfy the requirement.
School officials hope the requirement will raise student aspirations and boost college attendance.
Students say Pledge via classroom TV
ST. PAUL — Students at Central High School have been watching TV during the Pledge of Allegiance, but no one is complaining.
Unable to buy enough real flags for the school year, Central High has taken to showing an image of the American flag on classroom TVs while students recite the Pledge.
A new state law requires schoolchildren to say the Pledge at least once a week, and the school simply doesn’t have enough flags for that.
The problem originated five years ago when the high school was repainted and many flag holders were removed, Principal Mary Mackbee said.
“It’s very expensive to outfit a school like this with flags and flag holders,” she said.
Ex-priest sentenced for sexual misconduct
ST. LOUIS — A defrocked Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 12 years in prison yesterday for exposing himself to three boys while serving as an elementary school counselor.
James Beine, 61, was found guilty in June of sexual misconduct involving children.
He was accused of exposing himself to third- and fourth-graders at a school in St. Louis during the 2000-01 school year.
In June, he was sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
Beine, who was dismissed from the priesthood in 1977 over accusations of sexual abuse, was a counselor at St. Louis-area elementary schools for more than a decade before his arrest.
Organization aims to up Hispanic vote
LAS VEGAS — The political organization Moving America Forward is tapping New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to encourage Nevada Hispanics to vote Democratic in the 2004 presidential election.
The organization plans to spend up to $1.5 million and hire 40 workers. Latin Chamber of Commerce officials in Las Vegas say it is the biggest effort aimed at the Hispanic vote in Nevada history.
EPA sued over exposure
NEW YORK — The Environmental Protection Agency was sued by four states and a coalition of conservation, public health and farmworker groups yesterday for failing to protect children from unsafe levels of pesticide residue found in food.
The plaintiffs, who filed two separate cases in Manhattan federal court, seek court orders forcing the EPA to comply with a 1996 law requiring that the agency set pesticide residue standards 10 times stricter than those considered acceptable for adults.
One of the lawsuits was brought by the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The other case was brought by an 11-member group that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pesticide Action Network North America, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Physicians for Social Responsibility.
New barley strain gives growers hope
FARGO — North Dakota State University researcher Rich Horsley has spent a dozen years trying to get his barley into a glass of beer. He is finally ready for a toast.
Anheuser-Busch Inc. has become the second major brewing company to use a variety of barley that Mr. Horsley developed in 1991. Miller Brewing Co. has been using the strain, known as Drummond, for two years.
“I think it’s a big victory for the growers,” said Mr. Horsley, a barley breeder. “They should finally have a choice out there.”
Robust has been the preferred variety for the last two decades, mainly because brewing and malting companies have refused to change their recipe for fear of offending dedicated beer drinkers, Mr. Horsley said.
Enforcement on hold for newspaper boxes
PHILADELPHIA — A plan to remove some newspaper boxes from downtown street corners was put on hold, the mayor’s office said yesterday.
The city had planned this week to start enforcing a 3-year-old law regulating the distribution of newspaper boxes on street corners. Under the ordinance, boxes for papers that don’t publish at least once a week would have been moved to a midblock location.
“We were contacted by smaller publishers who felt that they would be thrown out of the competition on certain corners or that it would infringe on their First Amendment rights, which is not the case at all,” mayoral spokeswoman Luz Cardenas said. “We want to make sure that the small publishers’ issues would be addressed.”
Court downs state’s ‘blanket’ primary
OLYMPIA — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Washington state’s “blanket” primary system yesterday, saying it violates the right of political parties to have their own members choose candidates for office.
The judges cited a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found a similar system in California unconstitutional.
Washington’s system, adopted in 1935, allows voters to pick nominees from any political party.
Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, part of the three-judge appellate panel that issued the ruling yesterday, wrote that that system violated the parties’ right to choose their own nominees.
Insurance premiums expected to increase
MILWAUKEE — Health insurance premiums for small businesses in southeastern Wisconsin are expected to jump by 24 percent next year, according to a survey of 130 area businesses by a Wauwatosa insurance brokerage.
Businesses with 100 or more employees face increases of nearly 18 percent. The increases mark the fourth straight year that premiums have grown by double-digit percentages.