- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

FLORIDA

High-school students must declare a major

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House passed a bill yesterday that would make Florida the first state to require high-school students to declare a major, just as college students must do.

The Republican-sponsored bill, backed by Gov. Jeb Bush, passed 85-35 on a straight party-line vote. It faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The bill also would give the governor authority to oversee districts with poorly performing schools and pay teachers bonuses based on how well their students do on standardized state exams.

Mr. Bush and others say that requiring high-school students to declare a major and concentrate on a particular field could prepare them better for college and the working world and reduce the dropout rate by making school more interesting.

INDIANA

College bills force mayor to resign

GARY — Mayor Scott King announced yesterday that he is resigning after 11 years in office, saying he was returning to the private sector to earn more money for his children’s college bills.

Mr. King, who in 1995 became the first white mayor in 28 years in the predominantly black city of 100,000, had easily won re-election twice. His resignation becomes effective today.

There had been speculation about the move since Monday, when Mr. King announced the resignation of Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant and appointed former Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen Jr. as her replacement.

Mr. Allen, a 75-year-old black Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Richard Hatcher in 1975, becomes acting mayor. He said he wants to be considered when local officials meet within 30 days to choose who will run the city after that.

KANSAS

Concealed-weapons bill survives veto

TOPEKA — The state House yesterday overrode Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of a concealed-weapons bill, allowing it to become law this summer.

The vote was 91-33, giving supporters seven votes more than the required two-thirds majority. The Senate voted 30-10 for the override Wednesday night, three votes more than needed.

The new law, taking effect July 1, will permit Kansans who are U.S. citizens to apply for concealed-carry permits at their local sheriffs’ offices. Applicants must be 21 or older and take firearms training, and hidden weapons still will be banned in some places, including schools, churches, libraries and courthouses.

In her veto message Tuesday, Mrs. Sebelius questioned the measure’s effectiveness and cited opposition from law-enforcement officials and business leaders.

NEVADA

Ranch, miners agree to cut grazing

RENO — The world’s biggest gold-mining company and a sprawling Nevada ranch agreed to sharply reduce livestock grazing across nearly 800 square miles of public land.

Officials of the Bureau of Land Management confirmed Wednesday that the settlement was reached in negotiations between the Western Watersheds Project and the two companies.

The agreement reduces grazing levels by up to 75 percent through February across a vast stretch of land leased from the federal government by Barrick Goldstrike Co. of Canada and Ellison Ranching Co. of Tuscarora. The companies also agreed to lower grazing levels on some land they own.

In return, the conservation group agreed to drop efforts to block all livestock grazing on 596 square miles of public land in the area.

NEW YORK

Fugitive killer is arrested at home

NEW YORK — A fugitive from Panama who was convicted of stabbing a pregnant woman to death in 1991 was arrested at her New York home yesterday, nearly 12 years after she escaped from custody.

Secundina Santana’s application for U.S. citizenship last year led to her capture, officials said. A fingerprint check during the application process showed that the 45-year-old Staten Island woman was on a list of international fugitives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

Santana, a citizen of Panama, had been sentenced there to 15 years in prison for the murder of Elizabeth Gonzalez Pineda in Tocumen, Panama. The victim was seven weeks pregnant.

OKLAHOMA

Parole board to use videoconference

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Pardon and Parole Board will use a videoconferencing system to handle inmates’ hearings that had been face-to-face.

The system will save travel expenses and reduce security risks for transporting inmates. The system has been set up at the state’s eight correctional centers, and the Department of Corrections said it would be used for in-house needs such as training and meetings as well.

PENNSYLVANIA

Missing woman reunited with family

MCKEESPORT — For 10 years, Tanya Nicole Kach says she was told that her parents didn’t want her, that she was stupid and that no one cared about her but the middle-school security guard who was keeping her in his home.

It took her a decade to build the confidence to come forward, but on Wednesday, she finally learned the truth as she hugged her father, Jerry Kach, in a tearful reunion.

Since February 1996, when her parents reported her missing, Miss Kach, now 24, had been living at the home of Thomas Hose, 48. She had met Mr. Hose at her middle school, where he worked as a security guard.

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said that Miss Kach wasn’t allowed out of the house for the first four years she lived with Mr. Hose, but that she wasn’t being held against her will when she befriended convenience store owner Joseph Sparico, the man to whom she revealed her identity Tuesday and whose phone call led to the reunion.

Mr. Hose was jailed yesterday on charges of statutory sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

RHODE ISLAND

State officials ban abstinence program

PROVIDENCE — State education officials banned from public schools an abstinence program that civil rights advocates say embraced sexist stereotypes and included a sexual-health survey that broke privacy laws. The textbook said girls should wear clothing that doesn’t invite “lustful thoughts” from boys, and it described men as “strong” and “courageous” while women were called “caring.”

The program coordinator, Heritage of Rhode Island, said it stopped using the textbook and halted the survey because it also was concerned about violating students’ privacy.

TEXAS

Missing boy likely drowned accidentally

BURLESON — A missing 5-year-old boy authorities feared had been abducted apparently drowned accidentally in a pond on his family’s property, officials said yesterday.

An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday for Anthony Turner, who lived in rural Johnson County south of Fort Worth. He was last seen riding his bicycle south of Burleson that afternoon.

The boy’s body and bicycle were discovered early yesterday in the pond, said Cpl. Pam Jetsel of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.

“The bank was so steep that it looked like he had just ridden down into the water and probably couldn’t stop,” Cpl. Jetsel said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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