- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003


Extreme tides beach beluga whales

ANCHORAGE — Two dead beluga whales washed ashore last week after dozens of the animals were temporarily stranded on mud flats during extreme low tides.

The dead whales apparently were among 46 grounded for several hours Thursday along the shore of Turnagain Arm, about 40 miles southeast of Anchorage.

The survivors swam out with the high tide, said Barbara Mahoney, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Alaska Native hunters salvaged blubber under an agreement with fisheries officials.

Necropsies were planned on the whales’ internal organs and other parts.

The beluga whales probably were feeding on silver salmon passing through Cook Inlet when tides went out farther than usual, Miss Mahoney said.


Funeral planned for last 9/11 firefighter

NEW YORK — A single vial of blood will be buried to mark the funeral next week of New York firefighter Michael Ragusa, almost two years after he was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Mr. Ragusa will become the last of the 343 firefighters who died in the September 11 attacks to have a formal service in his memory.

Like more than 1,000 other families, Mr. Ragusa’s relatives waited for two years in the hope of a call from the city medical examiner to say that remains of the 29-year-old had been identified. But the call never came, and his mother said Sunday that the time had come to accept reality. “You come to realize you cannot do this to yourself forever; this could go on for years,” Dee Ragusa said. “He’s gone.”

A coffin containing the vial of Mr. Ragusa’s blood, a donation he had made to a bone marrow center, will be buried Sept. 8.


Fence to keep people from crossing border

NACO — A Marine unit is building a nearly half-mile-long fence to keep people from crossing an area of the U.S.-Mexico border near Naco, military officials say.

The fence will be 12 feet tall and will be made of steel posts placed about 8 inches apart. It’s designed to allow water to pass through while stopping people and vehicles.


Bill of Rights to return home

DOVER — Delaware’s original copy of the Bill of Rights is coming home.

The state recently began accepting bids from companies to create a special case to house and protect the document when it’s displayed at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover later this year.

The 212-year-old document containing the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution — and two rejected amendments — is scheduled to be displayed every year from Delaware Day on Dec. 7 to the Fourth of July.

Unlike the other 13 states that ratified the Bill of Rights in 1791, Delaware didn’t keep its copy. State legislators instead noted their approval on the 30-by-40-inch document itself and sent it back to Washington. Delaware officials began pressing federal officials in 2001 for the document’s return.


Jimena weakens, becomes tropical storm

HONOLULU — Hurricane Jimena weakened and was downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday, missing the Hawaiian Islands but still causing high surf and heavy rain.

The weather put a damper on Labor Day beach plans for residents and tourists along the eastern and southern shores of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. Beaches remained closed because of rough waves and rip currents. Surf was running 8 to 12 feet high, with 15-foot waves still possible.

Scattered power outages affected a few thousand people, with the largest blacking out 1,300 customers in the rural Volcano and Glenwood communities.

At 4 p.m. EDT, the National Weather Service estimated that the storm was centered about 225 miles south-southwest of the island’s main city of Hilo.


Troops in Iraq get baseball equipment

LOUISVILLE — A U.S. soldier stationed in Qatar wanted to bring his national pastime to the Middle East, so he decided to ask the makers of the Louisville Slugger bat for help.

First Lt. Derek Root sent an e-mail from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to the Louisville Slugger Museum to request baseball equipment for his comrades.

“We would love to have a few wood bats shipped here to boost our troops’ morale in time for the playoffs,” Lt. Root, with the Air Force’s 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, wrote the museum. “Could you help us bring a slice of Americana to the Persian Gulf region?”

Hillerich and Bradsby Co., makers of the world-renowned bats, happily obliged.

A shipment of dozens of baseball bats, balls, batting and fielding gloves, and sunglasses is being sent to Qatar and two bases in Iraq, said Rick Redman, the company’s vice president of corporate communications.


Authorities shut down girls’ pop stand

ST. PAUL — Two young sisters had to can their business after orders from authorities, who said the girls can’t peddle pop without a permit.

Mikaela Ziegler, 7, and her 4-year-old sister, Annika, were selling refreshments last week near the State Fairgrounds when an inspector from the city’s Office of License, Inspections and Environmental Protection arrived.

“She said, ‘You can’t sell pop unless you have a license,’” Mikaela said.

Their outraged father, Dr. Richard Ziegler, called City Hall for an explanation. He was told that St. Paul is cracking down on unauthorized merchants, and that his daughters would be free to hawk their drinks once they obtained a $60 license.

Licensing Director Janeen Rosas said the city has received more complaints than ever this year but added that no one had griped about the Ziegler sisters.


Candidate’s son arrested for public drunkenness

JACKSON — The son of Mississippi Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour was arrested and charged with public drunkenness in Starkville during the weekend.

In a statement, Mr. Barbour said his son Reeves, 24, was arrested after the Oregon-Mississippi State football game Saturday as he and several others were leaving a bar shortly before closing time.

“There was no altercation, Reeves was not driving, and no motor vehicle was involved,” Haley Barbour said in the statement.

Reeves Barbour has had alcohol problems, and received professional counseling two years ago, his father said.

“After that, he thought he had conquered the problem,” the elder Barbour said. “He now knows he hasn’t, and he is arranging to get himself help so he can, in fact, overcome this problem.”


Supervisors rescind ban on sandals

GRAND ISLAND — Hall County supervisors, some wearing sandals, approved a prohibition on sandal wearing by county employees — then rescinded the decision after giving it more thought.

The board initially approved the antisandal policy last week as part of a safety manual that the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association handed to counties for passage and distribution to employees.

The vote was so routine that supervisors signed off on the manual without reading it. It had included the sandal ban.

The policy came as a surprise to county safety committee member Supervisor Bob Rye and county board Chairman Pam Lancaster, who was wearing black slides as the board approved the policy. County Clerk Marla Conley also was wearing sandals at the meeting.

Even the county’s safety committee coordinator, Robin Hassel, presented the policy while wearing sandals.


Charges dropped in shooting-plot case

NORMAN — A felony charge has been dismissed against a 19-year-old accused of writing a plan for a shooting at his former high school.

Cleveland County District Judge William Hetherington ruled last week that there was no evidence of malicious intent by Brian Derrick Robertson of Moore.

Mr. Robertson was charged with one count of planning to cause serious bodily harm or death after a school shooting scenario was found detailed on the computer he used at Moore High School.

He was the first person charged under a state statute passed by the Legislature after a number of school shootings nationwide.

Mr. Robertson’s attorney, Sara McFall, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the statute was unconstitutional because charging a teenager for something he wrote violates his First Amendment rights.

The judge said he found the statute constitutional, but only if malicious intent was proved.


Canine cop captures suspect four times

LONGVIEW — Don’t try telling William Allan Repp Jr. that a dog is man’s best friend. He has been sniffed out four times by the same canine cop.

In the latest incident, Repp was arrested last week, accused of leading police on a high-speed chase in a 1980 Corvette, crashing into a tree and fleeing on foot until he was stopped by Reno, a Longview police dog.

The chase started when Officer Jason Ferriss spotted the car on Pacific Way traveling at 78 mph, according to his radar gun. The posted speed limit is 35 mph.

Repp was taken to St. John Medical Center for treatment of dog bite wounds and injuries sustained in the accident. Officers then took him to the Cowlitz County Jail. Bail was set at $35,000.

Officer Steve Dennis said this is the fourth time Reno has captured Repp after he has run from police.


Tracking-device theft leads cops to suspect

JANESVILLE — To track down this suspect in a theft, all police had to do was flick on a computer.

A 40-year-old man was arrested last week and charged with stealing a computerized tracking device that uses the Global Positioning System to keep track of prisoners on home detention.

“He apparently didn’t know what he had because he would be awfully stupid to steal a tracking device,” said correctional officer Thomas Roth, who runs the home detention program at the Rock County Jail.

The $2,500 device was temporarily placed outside a home by a woman serving home detention.

By the time the prisoner called to report the theft, the device had automatically notified the jail that it had been taken outside the prisoner’s home area. Mr. Roth then tracked the device through the Internet on his home computer.

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