- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2006


Sinkholes gulp down lake

LAKELAND — Two giant sinkholes almost completely drained a lake, leaving dead fish rotting on oozing mud flats and alligators and snapping turtles fighting for their lives.

Scott Lake began draining last week, and the larger of the two sinkholes grew this week to at least 200 feet wide and 15 feet deep, claiming a dock, concrete walkway and chain-link fence.

The lake could be restored. If the sinkholes are filled in, rain and runoff would refill the lake, but that could take years and specialists say they would have to wait for the lake to finish draining first.


Man who cannibalized teen seeks release

POUGHKEEPSIE — A former teacher who admitted killing a teenager and eating part of his body 27 years ago still belongs in a secured mental ward, two psychiatrists told a judge.

Dr. Khin Myo testified Wednesday that Albert Fentress did not currently display symptoms of major mental illness but said he cannot grasp Paul Masters’ murder, or why he sexually mutilated and cannibalized the young man.

Fentress petitioned the state Supreme Court to be released from a locked prison ward in Orange County, 50 miles north of New York City.

He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1979 murder and mutilation of Mr. Masters, 18.

The hearing was to resume July 6.


Illegal alien proposals set for ballot

PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers agreed to let voters decide whether to deny more state services to illegal aliens and whether to make English the state’s official language.

The Legislature rejected other ballot measures, which would criminalize the presence of illegal aliens in Arizona, set state punishments for businesses that hire illegal foreign labor, and stop communities from prohibiting police enforcement of federal immigration law.

The two measures approved late Wednesday, at the close of a 164-day session, will go on the November ballot.


Federal agency halts plan for drones

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County sheriff’s plan to use small, remote-controlled planes to track criminals and look for lost hikers has been temporarily grounded by federal officials.

The Federal Aviation Administration won’t authorize the drones until it investigates a demonstration the sheriff’s department conducted last week, agency spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

“I wouldn’t want to term us as peeved, but we were definitely surprised,” Miss Brown said.

She said agency officials told the sheriff’s department that it needed their authorization before flying the drones to ensure they don’t interfere with other aircraft. The department could face disciplinary action over the demonstration.


Motorcyclist hit by lightning dies

WESTMINSTER — A motorcyclist died after he was struck by lightning while riding in rush-hour traffic between Denver and Boulder, police said.

Witnesses reported seeing a flash of light shortly before the motorcyclist struck the center divider on U.S. 36 on Wednesday, police spokesman Tim Read said.

Gary Missi, 46, of Longmont, was pronounced dead at the scene. The lightning blasted a 4-inch-deep hole in the highway.


Beer sign forces hotel evacuation

PLYMOUTH — A red light from a beer ad that a bartender suspected was a bomb when he saw it blinking on a wall forced about 35 people to be evacuated from a resort hotel.

The guests were allowed back in their rooms less than an hour later, after a Marshall County sheriff’s officer determined the light was part of a Pabst Blue Ribbon ad suction-cupped to the window of the Sam Snead restaurant in the resort.

The bartender called authorities about the suspicious flashing light at 12:30 a.m. Monday, and the guests were evacuated about six minutes later, said Doug Leedke, general manager of Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, 25 miles south of South Bend.


Hurricane-hit libraries to receive $18 million

METAIRIE — Public libraries hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are getting nearly $18 million to rebuild and set up bookmobiles or temporary minibranches while they do so, three groups announced yesterday.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $12.2 million; the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund is giving $5 million; and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency, is offering $500,000 for staffing temporary facilities.

The two hurricanes damaged or destroyed 107 public libraries in Louisiana and 34 in Mississippi. Forty remain closed in Louisiana and eight in Mississippi.


City puts restrictions on sex offenders

FITCHBURG — The City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to ban sex offenders from living near places where children congregate.

It restricts Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders — the most severe categories — from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, day-care centers and the public library. The rule doesn’t apply to sex offenders already living in the city. It could take effect as soon as September.


Mayor declares civil emergency

JACKSON — Jackson’s mayor declared a state of civil emergency and tightened a juvenile curfew yesterday, saying he wants to make the capital city “safe and secure.”

Mayor Frank Melton, a first-term mayor whose campaign was built around cutting crime, said he would institute the emergency conditions for at least 30 days, until “the community tells me they feel they are safe and secure.”

State law lets mayors declare an emergency only for five days, and City Council members have questioned whether Mr. Melton can declare an emergency and require new curfews without their approval.


Governor, others seek lobby reform

HELENA — Gov. Brian Schweitzer and others petitioned for a statewide ballot initiative Wednesday that would make elected officials and others in state government who leave office wait two years before they can become lobbyists. The supporters needed 22,308 signatures; they had 37,000.

The measure would apply to lawmakers, elected officials — including the governor — and the personal staff of elected officials.


Shooting suspect fails to surrender

RENO — A fugitive wanted in the killing of his wife and sniper shooting of a judge arranged to turn himself in at a U.S. consulate in Mexico yesterday but failed to show up, authorities said.

Darren Mack was thought to be on Mexico’s west coast and had been spotted in the Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas areas, Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman said.

It was the most significant break in the international manhunt.

The former pawn shop owner has been accused of killing his estranged wife 10 days ago and shooting the family court judge who had been handling their divorce case. The judge survived the attack.


Corzine wants to sell state cars for funds

EWING — Gov. Jon Corzine wants to ease the state’s financial woes by selling 800 used vehicles from the state motor pool.

The vehicles were used by employees in state departments and judged unneeded by Mr. Corzine after he took office in January. He hopes to earn as much as $1 million, as well as save $1 million in fuel and maintenance costs.


Storms pound parts of state

TOLEDO — Several towns were under flood warnings yesterday after powerful storms raced across the state, toppling trees and power lines.

Five inches of rain fell in a five-hour span in the Toledo area Wednesday night, and 56 mph wind gusts and golf ball-size hail pelted northern Ohio, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters said more severe storms with hail and damaging wind were possible for Ohio through today.

In Toledo, firefighters resorted to rubber boats to rescue motorists from flooded underpasses, said William Halsey, director of the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency.


Cursive writing barred in prescriptions

OLYMPIA — A new state law says doctors no longer can write prescriptions in cursive handwriting.

To protect patients from illegible prescriptions and drug mix-ups, the law requires that all prescriptions be hand-printed, typewritten or computer-generated, the state Health Department said. Pharmacies still may accept verbal or faxed medication orders.


Coroner examines overdose deaths

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County medical examiner is revisiting six heroin-related deaths this year after a powerful prescription painkiller mixed with heroin contributed to a wave of overdose deaths in Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.

A new round of tests will screen specifically for fentanyl, which has contributed to nearly 100 fatal overdoses in the Midwest since the start of the year.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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