- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

ALABAMA

Weapons furnace has chemical leak

BIRMINGHAM — The Army shut down its Alabama chemical-weapons incinerator after an alarm indicated a possible leak of a small amount of the deadly nerve agent sarin inside a main building.

No one was injured, and the Army said yesterday that there was no threat to the surrounding community in Aniston. It was not clear when operations would resume.

The incinerator was destroying rockets filled with gelled or crystallized B nerve agent — also called sarin — when the alarm sounded Wednesday afternoon.

COLORADO

State posts Web list of tax evaders

DENVER — Colorado launched an online “hall of shame,” listing hundreds of businesses and individuals who reportedly are behind on millions of dollars in taxes.

The list includes the Atlanta Falcons football team, which is said to owe $23,677 in local wage taxes from a 1994 game in Denver.

FLORIDA

Endangered whale dies after beaching

AMELIA ISLAND — A newborn right whale calf still attached to its umbilical cord beached itself and died while researchers worked to transport it to Marineland.

The whale’s body was taken to the University of Florida, where researchers said it will take about a month before they know why the 13-foot, 3,000-pound male whale died.

The right whale is considered the most endangered marine mammal in the Northern Hemisphere; only 300 are left.

IDAHO

Police push to gather DNA from burglars

COEUR d’ALENE — State police want a bill pushed through the Legislature that would require DNA samples from convicted burglars.

Police say sampling could help identify suspects in crimes such as a recent series of home-invasion rapes that have been linked through DNA evidence. Analysts say perpetrators of home-invasion rapes often begin with burglary.

INDIANA

Mayor asks parks to stop casino trips

PLYMOUTH — Mayor Gary Cook asked the parks department to stop providing trips for senior citizens to Lake Michigan casinos.

Mr. Cook said the city might be liable if seniors gambled away their limited income on a city-sponsored trip. Parks officials said the trips, which cost seniors $15 each, are harmless and are popular with seniors in the northern Indiana city.

KENTUCKY

House panel OKs Boone road proposal

FRANKFORT — Daniel Boone soon might have his parkway back — in part, anyway.

A Kentucky House committee voted yesterday to restore the famous frontiersman’s name to a parkway that winds through southeastern Kentucky, the region first blazed by Boone in 1769.

It won’t be the Daniel Boone Parkway of old, however. Under the committee’s joint resolution, Boone would have to share the billing with U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, who has made the region a magnet for federal highway dollars. Former Gov. Paul Patton’s administration last year took Boone’s name off the road to honor Mr. Rogers.

Yesterday, a Boone descendant’s husband told the House Transportation Committee that the explorer deserved recognition.

“George Washington … is the father of our country. Daniel Boone is the father of Kentucky,” said Robert Bentley Sr., whose wife, Jacqueline, is descended from Boone’s sister, Mary.

MAINE

Governor returns to work after crash

PORTLAND — Gov. John Baldacci returned to work at the State House yesterday, a day after his sport utility vehicle slid off a highway, causing a broken rib and mild concussion.

The 49-year-old governor and his state police driver were treated for minor injuries at the Maine Medical Center, and both were released Wednesday evening.

State Police Detective James Trask was driving the 2004 Chevrolet Suburban when it struck another car on Interstate 295 in Bowdoinham, slid off the highway and came to rest on its side. The SUV had hit a patch of ice, said Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The other car’s driver, Timothy Putnam, 53, of Richmond, was not injured.

MICHIGAN

Baby survives mile of stroller-dragging

MOUNT CLEMENS — A sport utility vehicle slammed into a young couple walking with their year-old daughter, then drove for a mile with the baby and her stroller lodged in the grill. The child survived, but her father was killed.

A suspect was in custody, and authorities say he was drunk at the time of the Tuesday evening crash.

The hit-and-run driver apparently stopped about a mile away, freed the mangled stroller from the grill — with Deborah Young still inside — and drove off. The crying child still was strapped inside the stroller when police and others found her.

Deborah, who suffered cuts to the face, was listed in fair condition Wednesday at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Roland Young Jr., 20, was killed, and the girl’s mother, Sharita Wilson, 19, was listed in fair condition at a Mount Clemens hospital Wednesday.

Robert W. Gallas, 47, was arraigned Wednesday on six counts of operating while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. All carry maximum five-year sentences except one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death, which carries a 15-year maximum punishment.

MISSOURI

Zoo keeper attacked by 200-pound bear

ST. LOUIS — A 200-pound bear attacked a St. Louis Zoo employee yesterday, but the handler made his way out of the pen and is expected to recover.

The male Malayan sun bear jumped on the worker around 8 a.m., during a routine transfer of animals from their indoor pen to outdoor space, zoo director Bill Boever said.

The handler, whose name was not released, suffered lacerations, bites and puncture wounds on the arms and legs, but the injuries were not life-threatening, Mr. Boever said.

Zoo officials said handlers routinely enter the bears’ indoor enclosure to release them outdoors before cleaning the pens, and the handler thought both bears were outside. He escaped from the enclosure after the attack, closing the door behind him, Mr. Boever said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Landmark bridge to undergo renovation

JACKSON — The Honeymoon Bridge, a tourist landmark, is getting an $833,000 makeover. Foot and motor-vehicle traffic will be closed across the Jackson covered bridge until June 25, and work should be completed in August, state highway officials said.

Work on the structure is to include extensive structural repairs and replacement of some sections of the wooden span.

OKLAHOMA

Enrollment increases in savings plan

TULSA — Despite a weak economy, Oklahoma families are making college savings a priority. Year-end figures show that families started 6,600 new college-savings accounts in 2003, a 120 percent increase from 2002.

The Oklahoma College Savings Plan has assets and investments of $70.8 million, officials say. The plan allows families to invest college savings in tax-free accounts.

PENNSYLVANIA

Police dog suspended for biting black youths

MCKEES ROCKS — A police dog has been suspended while investigators try to determine whether the animal has something against black children.

The dog, a German shepherd named Dolpho, was cleared two years ago of attacking a child because he was black. But Dolpho was removed from duty on Monday after biting another black child.

Dolpho attacked a 14-year-old black girl on Jan. 28 during a crime-prevention demonstration at a school, but did not break the youngster’s skin. Her parents said a white student petted the dog without incident before the attack on their daughter.

In 2002, town officials ordered a two-month investigation to determine whether Dolpho was singling out blacks while on patrol after the dog escaped from police vehicle and bit a 9-year-old black boy playing nearby. The dog was taken off duty, retrained for two months and returned to the force.

TEXAS

Janet Jackson avoids criminal charges

HOUSTON — Janet Jackson might have offended many Americans, but she didn’t break the law.

Houston police and legal officials said yesterday that no criminal charges will be filed in connection with her performance during the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday.

Pop singer Justin Timberlake exposed Miss Jackson’s right breast when he ripped off a bodice cup at the end of their halftime duet at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

“The law in Texas does not criminalize the exposure of a woman’s breast in public,” said a spokeswoman for Harris County District Attorney Charles A. Rosenthal Jr.

The city’s acting police chief, Joe Breshears, issued a statement Monday that criminal charges against Mr. Timberlake would be considered only if Miss Jackson filed charges.

Representatives for Mr. Rosenthal and Chief Breshears also said there was no legal basis to bring charges against Kid Rock, who wore a U.S. flag with a slit through it as if it were a poncho during the halftime show.

UTAH

Bill would prevent obesity suits

SALT LAKE CITY — You might not be able to blame that fast-food restaurant for your super size, at least not in Utah.

A proposed Senate bill would shield Utah restaurants from lawsuits filed by people who say the restaurant’s food made them fat.

“It’s becoming a national trend, and there’s a potential it could occur here in Utah,” said sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson.

Nationally, no plaintiff has succeeded in obesity-related claims against restaurants. Last year, a federal judge in New York dismissed two class-action lawsuits blaming McDonald’s for making people fat.

WASHINGTON

Canadian mayors talk about mad cow

YAKIMA — The mayors of three Canadian cities visited the central Washington valley where the first case of mad cow disease was discovered, a goodwill mission intended to ease tensions between the two countries and raise awareness about the investigation’s effect on Canada.

U.S. officials announced in late December that the nation’s first case of mad cow disease had been found in a Canadian Holstein that was shipped to a Mabton dairy farm.

The announcement came as a blow to a Canadian cattle industry already reeling after mad cow disease was discovered in a cow there in May. The industry since has lost an estimated $2 billion.

“You feel helpless when you see what’s happening in your community, in your area, and frustrated,” said Mayor Garth Vallely of Medicine Hat, a city of more than 50,000 in southern Alberta, Canada.

WEST VIRGINIA

School board declines to ban Rebel flags

UNION — The Monroe County School Board has declined a request by the NAACP to ban Confederate flag symbols in schools.

Larry Baxter, president of the Greenbrier County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, asked the board Tuesday to reconsider its December decision not to ban the emblems.

The board told Mr. Baxter in January that it could not take action because the subject was not on the agenda. This week, Mr. Baxter was on the agenda and repeated his request. Board members listened, but when Mr. Baxter had finished, they moved on to other business with no comment or explanation.

WYOMING

Man jailed, fined for stunt damage

SHERIDAN — A man who drove an old car into a pond in a failed attempt to jump over it — Evel Knievel-style — has been sentenced to 270 days in jail.

Wayland Justin Williams, 24, pleaded guilty Tuesday to property destruction, dispensing an offensive matter in a pond and abandoning a motor vehicle on state land.

Circuit Judge John Sampson fined Williams $690. For driving through a fence, Williams also must pay $200 to a rancher who holds a state permit to graze livestock on the land.

According to court documents, Williams polluted the bass pond with oil and gasoline when he drove the old Buick into it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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