- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

KANSAS

Towns try to attract homeowners

MARQUETTE — Dean and Jennifer Krehbiel are modern-day pioneers on the prairie.

They are building a home in this rural town after being offered land as part of a giveaway aimed at revitalizing Marquette.

The idea was borrowed from the homesteading days of the 1800s, when the promise of land for the taking brought settlers to the Great Plains by the droves.

Marquette is among at least 10 Kansas communities offering free land to attract residents to boost school enrollment and fatten the tax base.

NEW YORK

Prison hostage considered suicide

NEW YORK — A prison guard held hostage in a watchtower by two inmates for 15 days says she thought she would die “from the moment they came in” and contemplated suicide during the ordeal.

Agreeing for the first time to have her name made public, Lois Fraley told ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday that she was so fearful of the inmates that she considered herself dead.

She was taken hostage with guard Jason Auch on Jan. 18 in a three-story guard tower at the Arizona state prison in Buckeye, outside Phoenix. Miss Fraley was released Feb. 1, when inmates Steven Coy and Ricky Wassenaar surrendered.

Miss Fraley said she was raped by the two inmates during the ordeal.

ALASKA

Last musher crosses Iditarod finish line

ANCHORAGE — It might have taken 15 days in the freezing cold, but Perry Solmonson finally is done with the Iditarod.

Mr. Solmonson of Whittier became the last musher in the 2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, crossing the finish line in Nome nearly a week after winner Mitch Seavey.

Mr. Solmonson finished the 1,100-mile race on Monday. It took him 15 days, 2 hours, 50 minutes and 36 seconds to go from Anchorage to Nome.

ARKANSAS

Ban challenged on gay foster parents

LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas judge yesterday began hearing a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on homosexuals acting as foster parents.

The Child Welfare Review Board was sued in 1999 after it barred homosexuals from acting as foster parents, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The board also banned anyone with a homosexual adult in the household from being a foster parent.

American Civil Liberties Union attorneys contend that the state policy violates the constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They intend to call witnesses to dispel the belief by some that homosexuals are poor parents.

Nebraska is the only other state that bans homosexuals from acting as foster parents.

CALIFORNIA

Buttafuoco jailed for insurance fraud

LOS ANGELES — The man at the center of last decade’s “Long Island Lolita” case, Joey Buttafuoco, is in jail again, this time on Los Angeles car-repair fraud charges.

Buttafuoco, 48, entered a guilty plea on Monday in Los Angeles, and immediately began serving a one-year jail sentence, the New York Post said yesterday.

He was arrested Dec. 17, when undercover investigators visited an auto-repair shop he co-owned and charged him with billing insurance companies for repairs to undamaged vehicles.

A judge accepted his plea bargain, which was one year in jail, $4,624 in restitution and a lifetime ban on working in car repair in California.

FLORIDA

Plans revealed for Catholic church

NAPLES — Ave Maria University, a new Catholic higher-education institution, today will reveal architectural drawings for the world’s largest crucifix and one of the country’s largest Roman Catholic churches.

Called the Oratory of Ave Maria, the church — constructed of glass, steel and aluminum — is slated to have the largest seating capacity of any Catholic church in the country. It apparently will outdo the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the District, the country’s largest Catholic church, which has a seating capacity of 6,000, with seats for an additional 400 in the downstairs crypt.

The founder of Ave Maria, Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, will release specifics today on the exact size of the church and crucifix.

ILLINOIS

Talk therapy helpful for hypochondriacs

CHICAGO — A type of talk therapy can help hypochondriacs recognize that their illnesses are only in their heads, a study said yesterday.

In the study, 187 patients were divided into two groups, with one attending six 90-minute sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy in six weeks and the other receiving normal medical care.

Those undergoing therapy got help identifying psychological motives such as their moods, whether they were hypervigilant concerning their bodies, whether they carried strong beliefs about the symptoms or causes of disease and whether they frequently adopted the role of a sick person.

MASSACHUSETTS

Incest law doesn’t apply to stepparents

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Supreme Court, in a 4-3 vote, ruled that the state’s incest law doesn’t apply to stepparents.

In the narrow ruling handed down Monday, the court said the Massachusetts incest statute bans intercourse between people related by blood or through adoption. The court was acting on a case in which a 60-year-old man was accused of having sex with his teenage stepdaughter.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Robert Cordy, stated that the wording of the incest law “cannot be stretched beyond their fair meaning.” The court said it was up to the state legislature to expand the incest statute.

Although the incest charges were ordered dismissed by the decision, defendant Dawud Rahim still faces numerous charges, including rape and exhibiting a nude child on videotape, the Boston Globe reported. Mr. Rahim has been jailed since 2001.

PENNSYLVANIA

Snack-food makers take the defensive

PHILADELPHIA — The $22 billion salty snack industry, seemingly always on the defensive against the latest nutritional fad, is adjusting to the latest demand with some new products and advertising.

But many companies still are banking on the natural craving for a salty, crunchy snack that flat out tastes good.

The latest blow for snacks came this month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a study that said more Americans soon will be dying of obesity than from smoking. A poor diet and physical inactivity caused 400,000 deaths in 2000, a 33 percent jump since 1990, the study said.

Many people in snack sales say they aren’t too quick to respond to health crazes because they often die out. Many snack makers point to the low-fat craze in the 1990s, which skyrocketed and then faded.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Missing boy, 7, found safe

ANDERSON — A 7-year-old boy who vanished while his family shopped at a Kmart was found safe yesterday morning after someone left him at a grocery store, officials said.

An Amber Alert had been issued for Hunter Allen Thompson early yesterday morning. He had been reported missing Monday night. The boy had vanished from the Kmart as he looked at video games while family members were shopping elsewhere in the store, authorities said earlier Tuesday.

Hunter was left at a grocery store by someone in a car, officials said. Investigators said they were looking for a white man with brown hair, who was last seen driving north in a white four-door car.

TEXAS

Judge denies return of Confederate plaques

AUSTIN — A Texas judge has refused to reinstall two plaques honoring the Confederacy at a state court building in Austin.

State Judge Paul Davis ruled Monday that Texas courts are prohibited by a new law from making decisions on historical markers, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The plaques were mounted in the entry shared by the Texas Court of Criminals Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court until June 2000. The Sons of Confederate Veterans contend that former Gov. George W. Bush removed them to further his run for president.

WEST VIRGINIA

3 charged in theft from lottery winner

WINFIELD — Three men were charged yesterday with stealing $100,000 from the winner of the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The men were accused of breaking into Jack Whittaker’s sport utility vehicle on Jan. 17. The vehicle was parked outside Mr. Whittaker’s home.

Authorities began investigating after learning that the suspects spent $7,000 to $8,000 on clothing in a department store.

Brian C. Hillabold and David M. Fewell, both 20, were jailed on $75,000 bail. Vernon R. Jackson Jr., 22, was arraigned later, and bail had not been set.

Mr. Hillabold and Mr. Fewell told police that Mr. Jackson took the money and gave them $10,000 each, sheriff’s Detective Shawn Johnson said.

Mr. Whittaker won a Powerball prize of nearly $315 million on Christmas Day 2002. Since then, money has been stolen from his vehicle thrice, and his business has been burglarized.

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