- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2005


Salmon harvest reaches 1.6 million

KENAI — The Department of Fish and Game predicts another bountiful year for sockeye salmon in Upper Cook Inlet. Commercial fishermen have harvested 1.6 million red salmon so far.

The season’s busiest day was July 11, when nearly 360,000 fish were caught. The pre-season forecast called for a harvest of about 4 million fish.


Mayor, councilman convicted in scandal

SAN DIEGO — A federal jury yesterday convicted San Diego’s acting mayor and a city council member of taking payoffs from a strip-club owner to help repeal a “no-touching” law at nude clubs, the latest blow to a city awash in scandal.

Michael Zucchet, who became interim mayor over the weekend, was found guilty of conspiracy, extortion and fraud on his first business day in office. He was suspended from the position immediately, his attorney said.

Councilman Ralph Inzunza, who was convicted of the same charges, also was suspended.

It is not clear who will succeed Zucchet, whose conviction leaves the city rudderless at one of the most troubled points in its history. Mayor Dick Murphy resigned and left office Friday, eight months into a second term cut short by mounting problems at City Hall. Mr. Murphy’s permanent replacement will be chosen in an election next Tuesday or a potential November runoff of the top two finishers.


Pack of dogs kills Australian birds

INDIANAPOLIS — A pack of stray dogs has killed all the birds in an Australian exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo, officials said.

The dogs on Sunday killed two black swans, three magpie geese and three emus. It was not known how the dogs got into the zoo.

A zoo employee discovered the strays just after 6 a.m. as they were attacking birds in the “Australian Plains” exhibit. Officials think the dogs were spotted within moments of their break-in, and workers quickly called for help.

Police arrived and used shotguns to kill four dogs — three male Labrador-chow mixes and a female terrier mix — after efforts to corral them failed. An adult male pit bull was captured with a wire noose and a sixth dog was still on the loose.


Lightning strike injures 21 soldiers

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP — Lightning struck a metal canopy and injured 21 soldiers who were standing under it at a National Guard weapons training range.

Only one of the injured soldiers, a sergeant who was knocked unconscious, was admitted to a hospital after the strike Sunday night. Sgt. Richard Sandt, 36, was expected to be discharged yesterday, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver said.

About 100 soldiers had been firing weapons at the M-16 range when the exercise was stopped about 8:30 p.m. because of the storm. The soldiers were under a pavilion waiting to board a bus when the lightning struck.


Homeowners brace for flood-plain maps

ATLANTA — Many Georgia homeowners have learned the hard way that their property is not as safe from flooding as they once thought.

Flood plains have changed in many fast-growing counties, and state environmental officials are busy updating flood- plain maps for all counties. Some homeowners may find their homes are in a flood plain, a designation that could add hundreds of dollars in annual insurance costs.


Bikers host benefit for abduction survivor

STATELINE — Well-wishers arrived on more than 500 Harley-Davidsons and other motorcycles to empty their pockets on behalf of the biker’s daughter who survived a horrific abduction.

About 1,000 people attended the six-hour benefit Sunday to aid Shasta Kay Groene, 8. Money poured into a box at the front door of Cruiser’s bar and grill, a biker hangout in this town just east of the Washington state line. Total receipts were not announced.

The girl’s father, Steven Vincent Groene, 48, part of the North Idaho biker community, stood at the front of an impromptu receiving line under the hot sun for more than five hours.

The event was held a day after more than 700 people filled the Real Life Ministries building in nearby Post Falls for a memorial to the girl’s brother, Dylan James “D.J.” Groene, whose remains were found in a remote area in western Montana.

Their mother, Brenda Kay Groene, 40, an older brother, Slade Vincent Groene, 13, and the mother’s boyfriend, Mark Edward McKenzie, 37, were beaten to death. Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, a convicted sex offender, has been accused of killing the three at the family home, abducting the two younger children and later killing Dylan.


Mass celebrated at reopened church

BOSTON — Hundreds of worshippers filled a Quincy church for an overflow Mass, its first since the Archdiocese of Boston decided to close it nine months ago. Erin Driscoll, 24, said the service at the Star of the Sea was like a “big family reunion.”

The archdiocese closed the church and locked its doors in October. Earlier this month, the archdiocese announced the church would be allowed to reopen as a chapel affiliated with Sacred Heart in Quincy.


Gun ban costs city NRA convention

COLUMBUS — The National Rifle Association said yesterday it is pulling its 2007 national convention out of Columbus because of the city’s ban on assault weapons.

The City Council passed a measure July 12 outlawing the sale or possession of semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips and detachable magazines.

The NRA had planned to hold its annual three-day event, expected to draw as many as 60,000 people, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

“The party is canceled because last week your City Council unanimously voted to revoke the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in Columbus by banning perfectly legal firearms,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said.


Judge allows votes by homeless people

RACINE — A judge decided to allow ballots cast by homeless people in an alderman race that was decided by three votes. Jeff Coe, who lost the election, argued that the homeless voters did not comply with the statutory 10-day residency requirement.

The voters took part in a city shelter program. A judge ruled that because the program houses people in different locations each night, the homeless voters never could establish the 10-day residency requirement.

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