- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ALABAMA

Boys, girls may get separate classrooms

COLUMBIANA — An Alabama county’s board of education is considering a proposal to put boys and girls in separate classrooms in some middle schools next fall.

Shelby County officials hope that separating boys and girls will improve student performance after seven of eight county schools failed to meet state goals on standardized tests this fall, the Birmingham News reported.



ARIZONA

Forest officials want trees left undecorated

SEDONA — Officials with the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona are asking people not to decorate Christmas trees that line forest highways.

Decorating trees along well-traveled roads has become increasingly popular. However, the Forest Service said the decorations distract motorists and pose a threat to wildlife that might eat them or become entangled in them.

DELAWARE

Town puts hold on condo conversions

DEWEY BEACH — Town commissioners approved a 180-day moratorium on the conversion of motels into condominiums.

The practice was allowed under a change in the town code approved less than a year ago. Four motels have decided to close permanently to be replaced by condos. Mayor Courtney Riordan fears the resort town won’t have enough motel rooms for people staying overnight.

GEORGIA

Man pleads guilty in HIV exposure case

ATLANTA — A former Emory University medical student pleaded guilty yesterday to two more counts of knowingly having unprotected sex without warning the partner he was HIV positive.

Garry Wayne Carriker was sentenced two years in prison and eight more years on probation. The Fulton County sentence will be served concurrently with an identical sentence issued earlier this month by a Fayette County judge for a separate incident.

Carriker, a fourth-year medical student and 2001 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, must also serve 500 hours of community service after his release.

IDAHO

Town renames itself Secretsanta.com

SALMON — Officials in the northern Idaho town of Santa voted this week to rename the 115-person hamlet Secretsanta.com to hype an online gift exchange management service.

Last-minute legal wrangling left unclear whether the water board for Santa, the town’s only official body, had the authority to approve a new moniker. Even so, the board voted in favor of becoming Secretsanta.com in exchange for an undisclosed sum from a planned documentary on the name change.

Santa is the latest in a lengthening list of rural communities to agree to bear the brand of a company or service. Clark, Texas, last week changed its name to Dish to promote EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network. In 2000, Halfway, Ore., agreed to call itself Half.com after an Internet retailer later purchased by EBay.

The expected redubbing of Santa with ceremonies planned for Dec. 9 is the brainchild of marketing guru Mark Hughes, chief executive of Buzzmarketing.com and the architect behind Halfway’s name change.

IOWA

Warden ousted in wake of escape

JOHNSTON — Gov. Tom Vilsack said he removed the warden of a prison where two inmates escaped last week by using a homemade grappling hook.

The Iowa State Penitentiary warden, Ken Burger, will be reassigned and soon will retire, the governor said yesterday.

Mr. Vilsack said seven prison employees now have been disciplined over the escape of Joseph Legendre, 27, and Martin Moon, 34. He blamed the escape on a significant breach of security and said there had been no head count in the prison section where the two men worked.

The inmates used a rope fashioned from upholstery webbing and homemade grappling hook to scale a 30-foot wall at the prison in Fort Madison. Both men were recaptured late last week.

Moon was serving a life sentence for murder in the 1990 shooting death of his roommate during a drug deal. Legendre was convicted in the kidnapping and attempted murder of a cab driver.

MASSACHUSETTS

Gay ‘marriage’ foes claim petition victory

BOSTON — Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to put a stop to gay “marriage” in Massachusetts said yesterday they have gathered almost twice the number of signatures needed to put it on the ballot in 2008.

Beyond the signatures, the proposal needs to be approved by two successive sessions of the state legislature before it can be placed before voters.

The Massachusetts Family Institute and its online counterpart, www.voteonmarriage.org, said they will submit more than 120,000 signatures before today’s 5 p.m. deadline. The measure needed the support of 65,825 registered voters to make the ballot.

The proposed amendment seeks to undo a 2003 ruling by Massachusetts’ highest court that said homosexuals are entitled to “marry.”

NEW JERSEY

Stadium sets area for Muslim prayer

NEWARK — A special area for people who want to pray will be set aside at Giants Stadium, where several Muslim fans were detained and questioned by the FBI in September.

George Zoffinger, president of the N.J. Sports and Exposition Authority, said yesterday he agreed to designate areas to pray at the football stadium and the nearby Continental Airlines Arena.

The FBI said it detained five Muslim men Sept. 19 because they were in a sensitive area near the stadium’s main air-intake duct. The men said they had been praying, and said they believed they had been singled out because of their religion.

Security was extra tight that night because former President Bush was on hand as part of a fundraising campaign for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

OHIO

Parents plead guilty in newborn’s death

ELYRIA — A man and woman who dated as teenagers have pleaded guilty in the death of their newborn son who was stabbed, beaten and stuffed into a duffel bag full of rocks before being thrown in a flooded quarry six years ago.

Jessica Coleman, 22, wept in court as she pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter and six other charges. Thomas Truelson Jr., 25, entered guilty pleas to three charges, including abuse of a corpse.

Coleman was a 15-year-old high school sophomore and had concealed the pregnancy from family and friends before the baby was born in February 1999, police said. She beat and stabbed the child after it was born, and Truelson, her boyfriend, who was in college at the time, helped her get rid of the body, authorities said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Fired blind woman awarded $3 million

HARRISBURG — A jury awarded $3 million yesterday to a blind woman who was fired from her job as director of Pennsylvania’s agency for the blind and visually impaired.

Christine L. Boone, who was forced out as director of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services in 2003, claimed she was discriminated against because of her disability. A lawyer representing the defendants argued she was fired because of her shortcomings as a manager.

U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo has yet to decide whether to grant her request for reinstatement. The jury was still deliberating whether to award her punitive damages.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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