- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004


19 injured in blaze started by matches

NEW YORK — A 5-year-old boy playing with matches sparked an apartment building fire that injured 19 persons on Sunday afternoon, the fire department chief said.

Ten firefighters and nine civilians suffered minor injuries in the fire, which began at 3:46 p.m. and raged for 80 minutes in a six-story multiple-family dwelling in Manhattan.

Forty-five units and 168 firefighters responded to the fire. There was no immediate estimate on damage to the building.


Burrowing catfish threaten dikes, levees

CLEWISTON — An invasive catfish that can burrow holes in canal banks is threatening the safety of dikes and levees around Florida’s largest lake.

The population of the South American sailfin catfish is exploding in Lake Okeechobee, and the spiky fish has burrowed 3-foot holes in places around the lake between Clewiston and Moore Haven.

Jan Jeffrey Hoover, a Mississippi-based biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the burrows let water erode a bank from within and eventually collapsing it like a sinkhole, although he said no burrows have been spotted yet in Lake Okeechobee.

Unlike native catfish, the South American catfish are protected from natural predators by a flexible bony armor with saw-toothed barbs. No eradication program exists, but wildlife managers are encouraging fishermen to sell them as food.


Funerals held for 3 slain officers

BIRMINGHAM — Funerals for three police officers slain at a reputed drug house began yesterday with somber, tearful remembrances as two men charged in the killings were set for an initial court appearance.

Officer Charles Robert Bennett, 33, was lauded for dedicated service as hundreds of fellow officers attended his funeral, which included a 21-gun salute and a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.”

Services were planned for later in the day at Clear Branch United Methodist Church for Officer Carlos Owen, 58.

The two and Officer Harley Chisholm III, 40, were fatally shot Thursday as they arrived to arrest a man on a misdemeanor assault warrant at a home that neighbors say was known as a drug den.

Officer Chisholm’s funeral was set for today at First Baptist Church of Moody.


Agents seize ton of marijuana

TUCSON — U.S. Border Patrol agents, working along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in Arizona, seized nearly a ton of marijuana valued at $1.5 million in separate incidents this weekend along two roads on the reservation.

In one case, agents assigned to the Ajo, Ariz., Border Patrol station seized nearly 1,200 pounds of marijuana on Saturday after spotting “something odd” in the brush along Highway 34. The agents decided to investigate and found 37 bundles of marijuana concealed under a tarp.

No arrests were made.


Proof of machines’ link to obesity sought

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Huckabee said he wants scientific evidence that vending machines lead to obese children before he fully supports restricting the machines in public schools.

Mr. Huckabee suggests restricting vending machine use in a group of schools and comparing the data with schools with unlimited access. The governor lost 105 pounds in the past year after he was diagnosed with diabetes.


Schwarzenegger signs tribal gambling deal

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed new agreements with five Indian tribes yesterday that will allow a major expansion of tribal gambling in exchange for billions of dollars in payments to the state in the next quarter-century.

The deal allows an unlimited increase in the number of slot machines at the Indian tribes’ casinos. The current compact, signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 1999, limits each tribe to 2,000 machines.

The tribes will pay the state a badly needed $1 billion this year and $250 million a year after that until 2030.

The agreement allows Mr. Schwarzenegger to fulfill a campaign promise to make tribes pay a greater share of their casino profits to the state, which has been trying desperately to close multibillion-dollar budget deficits.


Rapper says officials approved video shoot

ATLANTA — A rapper who filmed a video in a jail while on work release from another jail disputes Fulton County officials’ statements that the shoot had not been authorized.

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the video shoot on Thursday was intended as an introduction to a concert in Atlanta on Saturday.

The video showed him in a jail cell, apologizing to fans for not appearing at the event. Then, it showed two uniformed officers escorting him out of the cell shortly before he took the stage.

Harris, 23, was serving jail time in neighboring Cobb County on a probation violation when he received permission to leave the jail to make the video, Cobb County Chief Deputy Sheriff Lynda Coker said.

Harris won’t say who gave him the clearance.


Yellowstone employee survives bear mauling

IDAHO FALLS — A Yellowstone National Park employee was recovering yesterday from an attack by two grizzly bears in a remote area of the park, KIFI TV of Idaho Falls reported.

The unidentified 20-year-old man was hiking along Mary Mountain Trail when he came across two adult grizzlies.

The animals charged him, but he used his wilderness training and fell to the ground, playing dead. Nonetheless, the animals raked him with their claws and bit him several times on his back, but eventually wandered away.

The man went to a ranger station, where an ambulance was summoned.


Regulations on Cuba may cancel course

BLOOMINGTON — New federal regulations on studying in Cuba could cancel a proposed Indiana University course in geography and telecommunications. The Treasury Department prohibits students from traveling to Cuba for courses that last less than 10 weeks.

That would block the university from offering the course scheduled to start next summer. It would have included 12 days of field work near Santa Clara, Bloomington’s sister city in central Cuba.


Man says he was tricked into enlisting

CLINTON — A recent high-school graduate is accusing an Army recruiter of tricking him into enlisting after he changed his mind about joining the military.

Ryan Winter, 18, says the recruiter repeatedly assured him before he reported to duty this month in Davenport that he simply would have to head to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for a brief out-processing procedure.

“He said, ‘I’m going to be back by next week,’” said his mother, Laurie Kasmar. Instead, she received an emotional phone message on June 13 from her son, saying he had been tricked into joining the Army.

The office of Rep. Jim Nussle, Iowa Republican, told the family Friday that the Army has decided to give Mr. Winter a Chapter 11 general discharge in two to three weeks.


Officials discuss retaining youth

ORONO — Cutting taxes, improving the job situation and promoting the University of Maine are three ways of keeping more young Mainers from leaving the state, said participants in a weekend forum.

Maine had a net loss of more than 6,000 people ages 20 to 34 from 1995 to 2000, researchers say. Gov. John Baldacci plans to convene a panel to discuss the suggestions.


Furniture store destroyed by fire

HAMPTON TOWNSHIP — A furniture store where a group of white supremacists often met was destroyed by fire early yesterday, authorities said.

The group organized by a Christian Identity leader, James P. Wickstrom, met at the Marquiss Quality Furniture store for about three years.

Mr. Wickstrom moved to Tennessee in June 2003 but returned to the area a few months ago.

No one was in the building at the time, and no injuries were reported in the fire near Bay City, about 100 miles northwest of Detroit.

The building was gutted.

Store owners Mary and LeRoy Marquiss said they have been threatened since Mr. Wickstrom’s meetings were publicized and think the building was set on fire by someone who opposed the meetings.


Antique plane crashes, kills two men

ST. PETERS — A vintage aircraft crashed outside this St. Louis suburb, killing both men aboard, authorities said.

The wreckage was found in a field six miles north of St. Peters on Sunday, a day after the 1947 Mono Coupe two-seater took off from Creve Coeur Airport, said Lt. Craig McGuire of the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

Airport officials notified the Federal Aviation Administration and local law enforcement when the plane did not return to the airport as scheduled.

Flight records identified the victims as pilot Ewell “Bud” Dake, 61, of Ferguson, and passenger Kenny Love, 76, of Crete, Ill.


Signatures gathered for marriage petition

HELENA — A conservative group in Montana says it has turned in almost twice as many signatures as needed to get a constitutional marriage amendment on the November ballot.

This was “the most successful signature-gathering effort in Montana’s history,” said state Rep. Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation. Supporters collected more than 70,000 signatures to meet a requirement of 41,020 signatures, including 10 percent of registered voters in 28 of the state’s 56 counties.

Election officials must check the signatures before sending them to the secretary of state. If approved, Montana voters will be allowed to vote on whether to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their state constitution.


Church collects ties, makes altar cloths

ORRVILLE — Fat and skinny, striped or plaid — Trinity United Methodist Church actually wanted neckties for Father’s Day.

More than 500 ties were collected and at least 400 were stitched together to make altar cloths for Father’s Day.

Pastor David Kowaleski said that when the call went out for neckties, some widows who had given away their late husbands’ ties bought new ones to donate in their memory.

Mr. Kowaleski and church member Diane Painting cut the ties and sewed them to quilt backing, a material strong enough to bear the weight of the ties without tearing.


Unlicensed taxis dangerous but needed

PITTSBURGH — Police and state regulators acknowledge that unlicensed taxis, known as jitneys, are dangerous but provide a needed service.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper reports that at least five jitney drivers have been killed since 1999. Nearly half of Pittsburgh’s black households have no vehicle, according to the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research.


Motorist stops deputy for speeding

McMINNVILLE — A motorist’s decision to stop a deputy for speeding escalated into a series of incidents that ended with his entire family joining him in jail.

Last week, Lance E. Champion, 23, reportedly pulled in behind Deputy Lt. Stan Hillis across from the local jail and told Lt. Hillis that he had violated the speed limit. By the end of their conversation, Mr. Champion was in custody charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and evading arrest.

Mr. Champion called his mother, Janice K. Champion, 48, who arrived with her 17-year-old son. The teen reportedly slapped the hand of a deputy who was gesturing for them to leave the area as Lance Champion’s vehicle was about to be towed.

Mrs. Champion then was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Officers say she was loud and refused to obey orders. Her husband, Hal Champion, 47, then arrived from church, was shot with a deputy’s Taser and taken into custody on similar charges.

All were freed on bond.


Four killed when car hits elk

NORTH BEND — The guest of honor at a family Father’s Day party was killed with his wife and two relatives when their car hit an elk.

A fifth relative was critically injured after Jesus P. Reyna swerved to avoid hitting one elk but hit another early Sunday on Interstate 90 about 40 miles east of Seattle, Lt. Colleen McIntyre said.

“The elk basically took the whole front end of the car and the windshield out and incapacitated the driver,” Lt. McIntyre said. “It looks like the driver never had the opportunity to brake.”

The car then tumbled over a 60-foot embankment and landed upside down on a road below the freeway. The elk was killed.


Man’s body goes unnoticed for days

SHEPHERDSTOWN — A man who apparently was pinned by a van on which he was working lay dead in his driveway for up to four days before a neighbor noticed him, police said.

Allan P. Burfoot, 57, of Shepherdstown, was found Sunday morning, State Police Trooper H.D. Heil said.

“The parking brake wasn’t on and the vehicle wasn’t in gear, and it apparently rolled onto him” as he worked on the vehicle, Trooper Heil said. Mr. Burfoot was pinned under the front passenger side tire, the trooper said.

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