- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

WISCONSIN

Snakehead found in Midwest river

JANESVILLE — A carnivorous Asian fish known for its voracious appetite and ability to wriggle short distances on land has been found in southern Wisconsin’s Rock River.

The discovery of the 2-foot-long giant snakehead by the state Department of Natural Resources marks the first time the introduced species has been found in Wisconsin waters, where officials said it may not survive the winter cold.



The giant snakehead can grow to more than 3 feet in length, and fish managers say that with no natural predator, it could change the local fish population.

MINNESOTA

Freshman shoots, kills one

COLD SPRING — A freshman opened fire at a central Minnesota high school yesterday, killing one student and critically wounding a second, authorities said.

The suspect was taken into custody after the late-morning shooting at Rocori High School.

Police Chief Phil Jones said “there was chaos” as police arrived at the school. One of the students was shot in the school’s weight room and the other was shot in the gym.

One of the wounded boys died, and the other was critically injured, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said.

ALABAMA

Trial to determine fate of hospital

BIRMINGHAM — A trial next month will decide whether HealthSouth Corp. can foreclose on one of its hospitals in suburban Birmingham.

Both sides have agreed that the rehabilitation giant, facing a federal investigation into a $2.5 billion accounting fraud, would not foreclose on the HealthSouth Metro West Hospital until the matter is settled.

ALASKA

Public records hard to get, watchdog says

HOMER — A watchdog group says Alaska environmental regulators are charging exorbitant copying fees to deter it from obtaining public records.

Bob Shavelson, executive director of Cook Inlet Keeper, said the Department of Environmental Conservation estimated a cost as high as $12,000 for copying thousands of pages of documents. Agency officials cite the staff time involved.

ARKANSAS

FBI asked to probe death of man

NASHVILLE — The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked the FBI to investigate the death in police custody of a man who fled officers when they tried to arrest him on suspicion of drunken driving.

Larry Hill Jr., 29, died in a jail after being sprayed with pepper spray after the chase. City officials said Mr. Hill’s death is under investigation.

CALIFORNIA

Boy brings mercury to school

CORONA — An intermediate school was partially evacuated Tuesday after a student opened a container full of mercury and began playing with it, officials said.

No one was injured, and the mercury — a toxic element — did not vaporize, said Fire Battalion Chief David Waltemeyer. He said the 13-year-old Corona Fundamental Intermediate School student had found the mercury in a cardboard box on the street.

A few students, including the boy, were evaluated by the fire department and cleared of any health problems. Vaporized mercury or exposed contact can cause coughing, breathing problems, skin burns and chest tightness.

FLORIDA

Anthrax victim’s widow sues over security

WEST PALM BEACH — The widow of a photo editor killed in the nation’s first anthrax attack in 2001 sued the federal government yesterday, saying lax security at an Army lab caused his death.

Maureen Stevens is seeking more than $50 million in what is believed to be the first lawsuit attempting to hold the government accountable for producing and mishandling the deadly strain.

Robert Stevens, an editor for the Sun, a tabloid, is believed to have contracted the disease from a tainted letter sent to the Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc.

HAWAII

Fire damages military club

HONOLULU — Fire destroyed part of the abandoned Fort Ruger Cannon Club, a place where soldiers celebrated weddings, birthdays and other events.

The fire appeared suspect because the building no longer has electricity, fire officials said. A homeless man on the property was arrested and released, police said. The club closed in 1997.

MONTANA

State’s plan draws mixed feelings

GLENDIVE — With the state facing massive budget shortfalls this year, residents of this small Montana city knew its state-run center for the disabled would close eventually.

What they didn’t count on was the planned replacement: a drug-treatment center for convicted felons.

The state’s proposal has drawn mixed feelings in this rural community. Residents know they can use every job Montana has to offer now that the Eastmont Human Services Center is to close, but there are doubts about whether they want work enough to invite a drug rehabilitation center into town.

With 100 locals on its payroll, Eastmont has been one of Glendive’s biggest employers and a pillar of the community for more than three decades. The building is set to be turned over to the Department of Corrections by the end of the year.

NEBRASKA

Race begins to replace ‘Rat Olympics’ title

LINCOLN — The U.S. Olympic Committee is making a university jump through hoops.

The committee says the Rat Olympics — the name for Nebraska Wesleyan University’s annual behavioral learning rat competition — must be changed because it infringes on its name, which is protected by federal law.

So the United Methodist-affiliated school is holding a competition to change the name of the rat races.

For 29 years, hundreds of furry white athletes have competed in the Rat Olympics, participating in the long jump, rope climb, tightrope walk, 5-yard hurdles and weightlifting.

The deadline for offering names is Oct. 31.

NEVADA

Woman beats children to death

LAS VEGAS — A woman bought a baseball bat and bludgeoned her two children to death, then stepped into the path of a truck in an apparent suicide attempt, authorities said yesterday.

Sylvia Ewing, 40, was hospitalized in critical condition. Police Lt. Tom Monahan said she will face murder charges if she recovers.

Lt. Monahan would not disclose the contents of a one-page note found in the two-room apartment where Mrs. Ewing’s husband discovered the bodies of his children, 8-year-old Phillip and 4-year-old Julie, when he arrived home from work on Tuesday.

“There is evidence that she was in the depths of a deep depression,” he said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Former governor dies at 85

CONCORD — Former Gov. Hugh Gregg, a member of the state’s Republican upper crust and father of Sen. Judd Gregg, died yesterday at 85.

Mr. Gregg, who served a single term from 1953 to 1955, died at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after a brief illness.

Rising from alderman-at-large to mayor of his hometown, Nashua, Mr. Gregg became at age 34 New Hampshire’s youngest governor.

He was a moderate Republican who based his administration on the notion that only growth could keep the state’s tax rates down. He did not seek re-election after his single term, but made a comeback attempt in 1960 and lost.

He co-founded a law firm in Nashua, but a larger part of his career was devoted to his family’s millwork, banking and manufacturing businesses.

NEW JERSEY

Mayor publishing comic book

JERSEY CITY — As if Hudson County politics weren’t colorful enough, Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham is publishing his own comic book, “The Adventures of Mayor-Man.”

Released amid Mr. Cunningham’s bid for a state Senate seat and paid for by a campaign committee, the premiere issue of the book opens with Mr. Cunningham working alone late one rainy day, trying “to keep taxes low for the people,” and “find more money for programs for kids,” when his wife, known as “Lady One,” bursts into his office.

“Mayor, a young kid is in trouble. He needs your help,” she says. “I think this is a job for Mayor-Man.”

The mayor, soon hit with a pulse of energy, blasts out of City Hall, flying through the roof and into the sky, Superman-style, before swooping down just in time to snatch a child from the path of a speeding car.

NEW MEXICO

Voters approve education amendment

ALBUQUERQUE — Voters gave Gov. Bill Richardson new powers he had sought over public schools, but it was not clear whether they also agreed to increase education funding.

In a special election Tuesday that represents Mr. Richardson’s first real test since coming to power last year, 55 percent of voters favored his plan to revamp the governing system for public schools and 45 percent were opposed.

However, a proposed constitutional change to increase the yearly payout from a state permanent fund was too close to call yesterday afternoon. It was trailing by 46 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting; it had been leading slightly before some counties revised their vote tallies.

The other constitutional amendment gives Mr. Richardson control over education policy by creating a Cabinet-level secretary of education appointed by the governor.

OHIO

Court upholds ban on concealing arms

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Ohioans have the right to own guns, but the General Assembly still can keep people from concealing them.

The court’s 5-2 ruling keeps Ohio from becoming the 45th state to allow its citizens to carry concealed guns in some manner and leaves in place a ban that dates to 1859 and was upheld by the court in 1920.

The ruling came in a Cincinnati case, where four persons who said they need to carry guns for protection at work sought to get the legislative ban thrown out. A Hamilton County Common Pleas court and a lower appeals court ruled against the ban.

The issue was condemned by gun-rights groups.

“We are disappointed that the Ohio Supreme Court has failed on this issue and not abridged this fundamental right of Ohioans,” said Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Court to rehear Confederate flag case

CHARLESTON — A federal appeals court will rehear the case of a man fired from his job for displaying stickers with the Confederate flag on his toolbox.

Matthew Dixon was a refrigerator mechanic at the Coburg Dairy’s North Charleston office and refused to remove two Confederate flag emblems from his toolbox after a black co-worker complained.

The dairy said the stickers violated company policy against workplace harassment.

In May, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld Mr. Coburg’s position. But last week, the full court agreed to rehear the case in December.

The court did not explain why it would rehear the case. But, according to court documents, at least one unidentified member of the full court polled the other judges asking them to hear the matter again, the Charleston Post and Courier reported yesterday.

WASHINGTON

City to pay millions in police chief shooting

TACOMA — The city has agreed to pay $3 million to the family of a woman who was fatally shot by her police chief husband, and officials said the final package could total several million dollars more.

Lane and Patty Judson, the parents of Crystal Brame, said earlier this month that they would drop their initial wrongful-death-claim demand for $75 million and accept whatever the city’s insurance would cover — under certain conditions. The conditions include the city taking responsibility for their daughter’s death and establishing an independent domestic violence counseling program for city employees. Mrs. Brame had said that her husband abused her.

WEST VIRGINIA

Chandelier in rotunda prompts Capitol closure

CHARLESTON — Concerns about the stability of a 2-ton chandelier in the West Virginia Capitol prompted officials yesterday to close the first-floor rotunda, a basement cafeteria and several offices.

The chandelier, which hangs above the rotunda, was lowered for a Southern Governors’ Association meeting this week. Maintenance workers were raising the chandelier yesterday morning when it unexpectedly shifted, acting Administration Secretary Tom Susman said.

WYOMING

Farmers get creative amid money problems

CHEYENNE — Mired in another year of drought and low milk prices, dairy farmers across the West are getting creative as they try to stay alive in an industry in which change is key to survival.

Some have turned to second jobs for extra income. Others are selling cattle and crops or using lines of credit to buy feed and equipment.

And a few have started investing in alternatives to traditional crops to save money in the face of skyrocketing feed costs driven up by three or more years of drought.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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