- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man sought in deadly motel fire

COLUMBIA — Authorities released a sketch yesterday of a man who might have information about a weekend fire at a Comfort Inn that killed six persons, hoping he would come forward with information.

Greenville County Sheriff’s Sgt. Shea Smith would not say how authorities knew of the man. He also said it was too early to characterize the fire as arson or determine a cause.

At least a dozen persons were injured, including three men and two women who were on ventilators for lung injuries yesterday at a burn unit in Augusta, Ga., said spokeswoman Beth Frits.

LOUISIANA

New Orleans developer dies at 90

NEW ORLEANS — Lester Kabacoff, who helped develop New Orleans’ first television station in 1948 and the World’s Fair in 1984, died Sunday at the age of 90.

Mr. Kabacoff was a Wall Street lawyer when he came to New Orleans during World War II and decided to stay.

After the war, Mr. Kabacoff became executive assistant to businessman and philanthropist Edgar Stern. He was involved in launching WDSU-TV and building hotels and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

The funeral and burial will be private. A gathering celebrating Mr. Kabacoff’s life will be held tomorrow at the New Orleans Hilton.

ARIZONA

State math test called too difficult

PHOENIX — State officials plan to ask the Arizona Board of Education to consider making it easier for this year’s eighth-graders to pass the statewide math test.

In the past four years, no more than 21 percent of Arizona’s eighth-graders have passed the test. Arizona officials claim that is because the test is not fair. The State Board of Education is not expected to vote on the proposal until next month.

ARKANSAS

Driver strike shuts down school buses

LITTLE ROCK — About 300 bus drivers went on strike over a pay dispute, leaving 18,000 students without their regular rides to school yesterday.

The drivers began the strike Sunday over the school district’s decision to stop paying them for the time they run their buses without passengers.

While some teachers took yesterday off in support of the drivers, all schools in the district near Little Rock were open. Extracurricular activities were to be postponed or canceled.

COLORADO

Officials ban feeding of foxes, coyotes

DENVER — State wildlife officials have banned the practice of feeding the foxes and coyotes that roam the Denver metro area.

Officials say they fear that someone feeding foxes and other creatures will get bitten. People who feed foxes or coyotes will receive a warning at a first offense and on a second offense will be fined $68, officials said.

DELAWARE

Engineers building flying robot

NEWARK — University of Delaware engineers are building a flying robot that could help law enforcement teams gather information for a raid.

The robot, worked on by mechanical engineer Sunil Agrawal, could also help rescue teams by mapping the inside of a collapsed building.

IDAHO

Cosmetic artist tattoos horses

TWIN FALLS — Cosmetic tattoo artist Teri Reid does not usually have to put her customers under general anesthesia when she is applying permanent eyeliner, eyebrows or lipstick, but will be forced to when her client is a horse.

Miss Reid, a registered nurse who specializes in so-called “permanent cosmetics,” has expanded her clientele to include horses.

The tattoos she puts on American paint horses are not for cosmetic reasons. When the horse is exposed to sunlight, the resulting glare can lead to squinting, sunburns, cataracts and cancer, said Holly Akagi, Miss Reid’s assistant.

KANSAS

Suspect wears costume in court

OLATHE — A man who came to a court hearing wearing a bumblebee costume — to protest what he called a “sting” operation by prosecutors — left a judge buzzing.

Conrad J. Braun, 54, was in Johnson County District Court on Friday to hear a judge rule whether a blackmail case filed against him last summer should go to trial.

District Judge John Anderson III was not amused by Mr. Braun’s getup, which included yellow stripes, cloth wings and a foot-long stinger. Judge Anderson told Mr. Braun that the judge has a duty to uphold court decorum.

Mr. Braun assured the judge that he meant no contempt to the court and promised he would not do it again.

Judge Anderson scheduled the trial date for May 3.

MASSACHUSETTS

State prison system now among toughest

BOSTON — The Massachusetts correctional system has become one of the nation’s toughest, the Boston Sunday Globe reported.

Parole has become a comparative rarity, and the state prison system has more guards per inmate than any other state. The state system is also the nation’s third costliest, the newspaper said.

NEBRASKA

Beef industry unveils post-mad-cow ads

OMAHA — The beef industry launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign yesterday, one month after the nation’s first case of mad cow disease, and right before the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl is a great time for people to serve up half-time snacks,” said Michele Peterson of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “We see beef as sort of the star player.”

The cattle group delayed its annual “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign for two weeks after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in a Holstein cow in Washington state.

The Denver-based cattle association believes the American public remains confident in the safety of U.S. beef. The advertisements promoting beef will run for four weeks on network and cable television. Print ads also will be used in a campaign expected to cost about $3 million, Miss Peterson said.

NORTH DAKOTA

Mom’s third baby born in a hurry

MOORETON — Eric Koch certainly started life off in a hurry.

Unwilling to wait for a hospital, the fifth member of Rod and Sherry Koch’s family was born Jan. 20 in an antique, cast-iron bathtub upstairs in their home. Eric greeted his parents minutes before the Breckenridge, Minn., ambulance could get there.

After waking with contractions, Mrs. Koch quietly walked downstairs unworried — she expected 12 hours of labor just as she had done for her other two children. Not Eric.

Fifteen minutes after Mrs. Koch woke him, Mr. Koch found himself on the phone with 911 dispatch, kneeling beside her as she was lying in the bathtub, about to deliver their second son.

OHIO

City shelves plan to kill crows

SPRINGFIELD — City officials shelved a plan to kill thousands of crows by serving them poisoned corn that isn’t supposed to harm other animals.

Instead, the city will seek other ways to roust the 100,000 roosting crows to reduce their noise and droppings. So far, special firecrackers, sirens, spotlights, laser beams and even recordings of crows in distress have been used.

PENNSYLVANIA

Toddler found stabbed in back

PHILADELPHIA — A 1-year-old girl was stabbed in the back and left in a snow-covered schoolyard yesterday morning, police said.

The girl’s mother was taken into custody for questioning.

A man taking his child to day care noticed the toddler about 8:45 a.m. outside an elementary school in the west Philadelphia neighborhood, police said.

A steak knife was lodged in the girl’s back and she was clothed only in a diaper, according to police spokeswoman Officer Sheila Smith.

The girl was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in critical condition. The hospital declined to release any information on her.

UTAH

Polygamist pleads guilty to incest

SALT LAKE CITY — A member of Utah’s polygamous Kingston clan was sentenced yesterday to a year behind bars for taking as his wife a 15-year-old cousin, who was also his aunt.

Jeremy Ortell Kingston pleaded guilty to incest in an arrangement with prosecutors. The felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor if Mr. Kingston successfully completes three years’ probation.

Kingston was 24 when he took LuAnn Kingston as his fourth wife in 1995. Family members say he has at least 17 children. LuAnn Kingston left her marriage in 2000, taking with her their two daughters. She said she went to police hoping to set an example for other polygamous wives.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lottery winner arrested for drunk driving

NITRO — The man who won the largest single lottery jackpot in U.S. history is in trouble again.

Jack Whittaker, who hit the $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas 2002, was charged Sunday with drunken driving — just weeks after being charged with trying to assault a bar manager.

Mr. Whittaker said he was on his way Sunday afternoon to Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming when he pulled off Interstate 64 because of the treacherous weather.

West Virginia State Police Trooper B.R. Morris said in a criminal complaint that Mr. Whittaker registered a .19 blood alcohol level and failed three field sobriety tests.

Mr. Whittaker was released on $150 bond.

WISCONSIN

Jury rules piccolo is not too loud

MADISON — The high-pitched sound of the piccolo is not unreasonably loud as far as Madison is concerned.

That is the ruling from a jury, which found street musician Tom Ryan not guilty of violating a city ordinance that bans such noises.

Mr. Ryan told the jury he played the piccolo for a living, making $15 to $20 on a good day at the State Street Mall near the University of Wisconsin campus.

The city issued Mr. Ryan a ticket last year after nearby vendors complained that two to three hours of the piccolo every day was too much

UW physics Professor Robert March, who said he sometimes stops to listen to Mr. Ryan’s playing, conducted tests for the defense showing the piccolo sound has a greater decibel rating than conversation, but lower than such area sounds as passing trucks.

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