- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

ALABAMA

Court refuses appeal in church bombing

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a former Ku Klux Klansman now serving life in prison for killing four black girls in a 1963 church bombing.

The court, without issuing a written opinion, declined last week to hear the appeal of Thomas Blanton Jr., one of three former Klansmen convicted in the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Blanton had challenged his 2001 conviction, saying tapes made secretly by the FBI in his kitchen after the bombing were made illegally. But an appeals court rejected those arguments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gay bishop officially takes over diocese

CONCORD — More than six months after his confirmation rocked the Episcopal Church, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly homosexual, took control of the New Hampshire diocese.

Mr. Robinson assumed full leadership yesterday in a ceremony known as investiture — a ceremonial passage of leadership from departing Bishop Douglas Theuner.

“It’s a family time for the diocese. It’s a time to give thanks and a time to welcome Gene to his new role,” said the Rev. Hays Junkin, who opened the sanctuary door at St. Paul’s Church when Bishop Robinson knocked at the start of the service.

ALASKA

87 dog sleds in Iditarod race

ANCHORAGE — A record 87 mushers and about 1,000 yelping dogs left downtown Anchorage Saturday on their way to this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, cheered on by bundled-up spectators lining the streets.

The world’s most famous sled-dog race began with a ceremonial, 11-mile run through Alaska’s largest city. Mushers drove their sleds over snow that had been placed overnight on closed-off streets and on local ski trails.

Timed competition was set to start yesterday in Willow, a town 70 miles north of Anchorage. It will end in the Bering Sea town of Nome, 1,100 miles further away, where the winner is expected to arrive in eight to 10 days.

The winner will receive $69,000 and a new truck. The total race purse is $720,000.

ARIZONA

Firefighters rescue dog from mountain

TUCSON — Officials with the Northwest Fire/Rescue District have saved cats in trees and even a dog stuck in a wrought-iron railing.

But the rescue early last week of a Dalmatian mix on a mountain might be a first, they say.

“She was about two-thirds the way up a mountain on a little rock outcropping,” said Capt. Paul Mischel, who led the technical rescue team that brought the dog down after 30 minutes of maneuvering. “She was on a 5-foot area where she couldn’t go up, down, left or right. She found that little spot and was pretty well stuck.”

Rocky, as the 1-year-old dog has been dubbed, is expected to recover, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

CALIFORNIA

Smokers won’t get hired as deputies

REDWOOD CITY — If you smoke, you won’t get a job as a San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy, under Sheriff Don Horsley’s plan to stem the rising cost to taxpayers of worker disability claims.

When Sheriff Horsley’s new employment policy goes into effect in the next 30 days, the department will become the first law enforcement agency in California to refuse to hire smokers, according to several law enforcement and health experts.

Under current state law, any heart disease or cancer experienced by a law enforcement officer or firefighter is automatically considered a result of the job — often regardless of the employee’s lifestyle.

Sheriff Horsley told the San Francisco Chronicle he expects the new rules to result in fewer disability claims, eventually saving the county more than half a million dollars a year.

FLORIDA

Parents charged in child’s death

OAKLAND PARK — A couple was arrested for beating to death one of their 3-year-old twins. They had told authorities that the child had hurt herself.

Jonas Julien, 37, and Lineda Julien, 33, each face one count of first-degree murder in the death of Ediana Julien, said Broward County sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. The Juliens were being held Saturday without bond.

Deputies and paramedics were sent to the family’s home Friday morning after dispatchers received a 911 call about a medical emergency. The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, authorities said.

The couple’s other children, Ediana’s twin brother and two boys ages 6 and 8, were taken into state custody. The male twin also showed signs of being beaten, officials said.

GEORGIA

Official defends custody decision

ATLANTA — The chief of county social services defended her agency against accusations that case workers failed to protect an 11-year-old girl who authorities say was raped and made pregnant by her mother’s boyfriend.

Beverly Jones, director of the county office of the state Division of Family and Children Services, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her preliminary review indicates that case workers acted appropriately in the case.

She defended the decision to leave the girl in the home in the fall, even after the mother’s boyfriend had been charged with molesting the girl.

“I thought it was a reasonable decision,” said Miss Jones, noting that the mother’s boyfriend had been arrested and the mother had agreed to keep him away. “At first blush, I do not see any egregious behavior or lack of judgment by my staff.”

The plight of the girl, who is seven months pregnant and in foster care, prompted a county grand jury to call for a special investigation into the handling of the case.

Trianthony Cannon, 36, is charged with rape, child molestation and aggravated stalking in the case. Police say they now think he raped the girl before he was first arrested and charged with child molestation and again after he was released from jail on bond in the fall. He was charged with rape in January after the girl was found to be pregnant.

The girl’s mother, Julia Johnson, 38, is charged with child cruelty and contributing to the deprivation of a minor.

IDAHO

Avalanche kills snowmobile rider

COEUR D’ALENE — Two men riding snowmobiles on a steep slope near overhanging snow and ice triggered an avalanche that killed one of them. The other escaped injury.

The avalanche on Jeru Peak near Pack River Park was reported about 12:40 p.m. Saturday by a witness who called the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities did not identify the victim, but said he lived in Washington state.

The Forest Service said the two riders should not have been on the slope because of unstable snow conditions.

ILLINOIS

Speed limit raised for trucks

SPRINGFIELD — The Senate approved a bill that would allow trucks to travel at 65 miles per hour on the state’s rural interstate highways. The legislation would raise the truck speed limit from 55 miles per hour to that of cars.

Truck drivers say a faster speed limit will accelerate the delivery of goods. Some lawmakers say having a uniform speed limit would decrease the number of accidents. The bill moves to the House.

KENTUCKY

One person dead in flash floods

GRAYSON — Flash floods killed one man during the weekend, and a 4-year-old girl and a woman were missing after vehicles were swept away by high water.

Up to 3 inches of rain fell across the state from Friday into Saturday, the National Weather Service reported.

Weyland Ingle, 42, was found dead Saturday after his all-terrain vehicle was caught in a flood in eastern Kentucky, said Sgt. Rod Williamson of the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department. Ingle’s body was discovered about a half-mile from the ATV.

In neighboring Carter County, the missing 4-year-old had been riding in a pickup truck that overturned Friday while traveling through high water, Sheriff Kevin McDavid said. Geraldine Williams, 49, lives nearby and said the girl’s father told her that she slipped from his hands into Grassy Creek.

State police in central Kentucky’s Washington County were searching Beech Fork Creek for a woman whose car was swept into the water. Relatives said they had not heard from the woman since Friday night, Sgt. Pat Williams said.

MISSOURI

Man celebrates 100th birthday

KANSAS CITY — Harry Vanderford’s 10-year plan is to live until he’s 110.

It’s not that far-fetched, considering he just turned 100 and could conceivably walk the rest of the way.

Mr. Vanderford said after blowing out his birthday candles Wednesday, “My goal is to make it to 110.”

Mr. Vanderford says he eats plenty of spinach, carrots, broccoli and fruits. He doesn’t use tobacco and he walks two miles thrice a week.

He celebrated his birthday with about 100 fellow mall walkers at Antioch Center, where he has walked laps for 30 years. The mall presented him with a plaque and a proclamation from Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes declaring Wednesday as Harry Vanderford Day.

NEVADA

Scholarships eyed for immigrants

RENO — An interim legislative committee will look at whether Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship program should be open to high school students who aren’t U.S. citizens.

Those in favor say offering the scholarship could reduce higher dropout rates and a low-skilled work force. Opponents argue that the scholarships come from a limited funding source and shouldn’t go to children of parents who broke the law to come here.

NEW MEXICO

Former agent dies of cancer

ALBUQUERQUE — Former Secret Service agent John Jones, who protected four presidents and drove Jackie Kennedy to the hospital for the birth of son John, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

He probably had a book full of anecdotes about his association with presidents, but mostly kept those to himself, said his wife of 51 years, Betty Jones. However, occasionally he would talk about something harmless, such as driving President-elect Kennedy’s wife to the hospital.

Mrs. Jones said his first assignment was President Eisenhower’s grandchildren.

Mr. Jones spent 25 years with the Secret Service, working with Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He also was head of the Albuquerque Secret Service office twice before his retirement in 1979.

OHIO

Man convicted in cornfield shooting

MILLERSBURG — A man accused of fatally shooting a prankster who threw tomatoes from a cornfield was found guilty of misdemeanor negligent homicide Friday night and sentenced to time served.

Marion Weaver, 58, had been charged with murder, which could have resulted in a sentence of 18 years to life in prison. The jury decided on the lesser charge after 4 hours of deliberations.

Weaver, who has been jailed since September, was sentenced to time served by Holmes County Common Pleas Judge Thomas White and given the maximum $1,000 fine. The charge carried a maximum six-month sentence.

Weaver was found guilty in the Sept. 1 death of Steven L. Keim, 23, of Apple Creek. Keim was in a group of people throwing tomatoes at passing vehicles, an annual prank in the Holmes-Wayne County area about 80 miles south of Cleveland that has the largest Amish settlement in the world.

PENNSYLVANIA

Enrollment decline closes schools

PITTSBURGH — Fifteen public schools in Pittsburgh are going to be closed owing to a lack of students, school officials said. The city’s public school buildings have space for more than 50,000 students, but the district has an enrollment of about 36,000.

A report conducted by the mayor’s office found that underused space adds to building and maintenance, staff, teacher and capital expenses.

UTAH

Boy Scouts survive avalanche during trip

SALT LAKE CITY — A huge wall of snow collapsed and buried the entrances to a series of manmade caves where more than three dozen Boy Scouts and their leaders were sleeping during a winter survival camping trip, but everyone was rescued unharmed.

After the 39 scouts and scout leaders went to sleep Friday night, winds gusting to 64 mph piled snow into a huge cornice hanging over the slope in northern Utah’s Logan Canyon, where the scouts, ages 12 to 16, dug their caves. The 500-foot cornice collapsed just before 4 a.m. Saturday, burying the entrances to the caves under 6 to 8 feet of snow.

The avalanche was heard by a group of scout leaders who were sleeping in a nearby trailer, and they used an emergency roadside telephone to call 911.

Cache County sheriff’s Lt. Von Williamson said the Scout leaders who called for help knew approximately where the caves were, and emergency crews used shovels and snow probes to locate the scouts.

WEST VIRGINIA

Prison adds fence after complaints

NEOLA — A 12-foot fence is being erected at the minimum-security Anthony Correctional Center in response to nearby residents’ demands for better security. The $190,000 project is expected to be completed in May.

Residents began voicing concerns two years ago after a series of escapes, but budget problems and red tape delayed the project.

WISCONSIN

No charges for man in spanking case

MILWAUKEE — A man who spanked his daughter in front of her Cudahy High School biology class for being disruptive will not be charged with a crime, a prosecutor says.

The county district attorney’s office said that because the spanking did not cause serious physical injury to the girl, it did not meet the legal definition of child abuse.

WYOMING

Bill allows state to pay doctors

CHEYENNE — In a bid to keep doctors in Wyoming, lawmakers approved legislation that would use state funds to help obstetricians offset rising medical malpractice insurance costs.

The measure appropriates $3.2 million from the General Fund to pay doctors $2,500 for each of their first 10 births delivered to Medicaid mothers, if the obstetricians averaged less than 50 births per year from 2001 to 2003.

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